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European Democratic Party (EDP): Organization, Outlook & Prominence

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  • 0:02 European Democratic Party
  • 0:38 History
  • 2:53 Politics
  • 5:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the European Democratic Party, a recently created European political party devoted to sustaining the EU and its institutions, and fighting euroskepticism.

European Democratic Party

Newton's Third Law - that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction - does not only apply to physics. Indeed, in politics, often as soon as there is an organized movement in favor of something, a reactionary, opposed movement crops up. Such is the case in Europe and the rise of euroskepticism in the 21st century. As euroskeptics coalesced around right-wing, isolationist political parties, there soon grew a centrist political movement directly opposed to euroskepticism. This is best exemplified in the relatively new, centrist party, the European Democratic Party.

History

The European Democratic Party was founded in the wake of the 2004 elections for European Parliament, which saw the euroskeptic group, the Alliance for Europe of the Nations, led by British Member of European Parliament Nigel Farage, win 37 seats and become the sixth largest parliamentary group. The AEN was based on euroskepticism, the idea that the supranational institutions of the European Union (EU) encroach upon the sovereignty of individual European nations, and, moreover, do more harm than good for the nations of Europe and all Europeans.

Euroskeptics often complain that the EU has too large of a bureaucracy and governance is too slow, stilted, or inaccessible to the public. The solution, for many euroskeptics, is the wholesale dismantling of the EU or simply the resignation of their home country from the supranational organization.

With euroskepticism on the rise in the early 21st century, those who believed in the European project and the organization and institutions that came with the EU were put on the defensive. The European Democratic Party (or EDP) was founded to defend the EU and its institutions. It was founded in December 2004 by François Bayrou and Francesco Rutelli, two centrist European politicians from France and Italy, respectively. Almost immediately, the EDP and its member parties joined the centrist political coalition, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe parliamentary group, which was at the time the third largest political coalition in the European Parliament.

Since its inception, the party has grown and now has ten member parties across eight EU nations. In addition, there are several MEPs who identify as being members of the EDP even though no party in their country is affiliated with it. Unfortunately, since its creation, the EDP's parliamentary coalition, the ALDE, has returned significantly worse election results. In 2009, the ALDE slightly lost traction in the European Parliament, down to 84 seats from the 88 it held after the 2004 elections. However, it took an even larger hit in the 2014 elections, when it won only 67 seats, and fell to being the fourth largest parliamentary group.

Politics

Since the EDP was founded in direct opposition to the growth of euroskepticism and isolationism in Europe, it should come as little surprise that one of the EDP's founding principles is the preservation and growth of the EU and EU institutions. The EDP believes that European integration should not only be preserved, but expanded. In addition, the EDP calls on Europe to continue building what it calls the social market economy.

This means that the EDP wants the EU to protect the local or regional cultural customs of Europe, while at the same time ensuring that all Europeans enjoy the same civil and economic freedoms as their neighbors. Achieving this idealistic balance is one of the toughest problems facing the EU today, and it provides a significant target for the EU's critics, who claim it can never be achieved.

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