25 Nov 2016 – A European Parliament vote on a resolution seen as extremely critical of Russia has allowed the painting of a very precise picture of which countries have the most pro- and anti- Russian MEPs. The Vote Watch website allows us to see exactly how each MEP voted and who the “rebels” are.
The Parliament passed on 23 November the very polarising “EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties”.
The resolution, based on a draft by Anna Elżbieta Fotyga (PiS, Poland) doesn’t focus exclusively on Russia (it also speaks of the propaganda by Islamic State), but it generally mobilised MEPs in two camps – those who supported the view that Russia pursues hybrid warfare aimed at destroying the EU, and those who thought such language can only be counterproductive.
The vote was passed with 304 votes “For”, 179 “Against” and a very high number of abstentions – 208.
France the most pro-Russian?
Without any doubt, the southern part of the EU rejected the resolution. Many parliamentarians voted according to national lines, especially in France and Italy. Only three French MEPs out of 68 present, and only eight Italian MEPs, out of 69 present, supported the resolution.
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From the Greek MEPs, out of 18 present, not a single one supported the resolution. Only six out of 20 Portuguese MEPs voted “For”.
In Bulgaria, a traditionally pro-Russian country for historic reasons, all socialist MEPs voted against, despite the position of the S&D group to abstain; all MEPs from the mainly Turkish party DPS abstained, which is also considers a “rebel” attitude vis-a-vis their political group ALDE who advised to vote “For”. All EPP-affiliated MEPs voted “For”, according to the position of their political family.
Overall data for the 28 countries show that the centre-right EPP group voted mostly in favour, but still had abstentions, especially from France and Italy.
Most of the overall S&D vote followed the instruction of their political family to abstain. An S&D source told EurActiv that the reason was that the group didn’t like mixing the issues of Russian and Islamic State propaganda in the same resolution.
The anti-European Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, chaired by Nigel Farage, voted massively against the resolution. The far-right group of Marine Le Pen, “Europe of Nations and Freedom”, was even more united against the text.
On the other hand, Central and Eastern Europeans, as well as Germans, Belgians and Dutch were highly in favour of the resolution, in range of approval between 50 and 70%. Even Viktor Orbán’s party, Fidesz, voted in favour of more action in countering anti-EU propaganda.
Clearly the strongest anti-resolution vote (more than 70%) was expressed by MEPs of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia.
The votes by countries and political groups, as well as the individual votes can be accessed here.