The Specter of Authoritarian Regimes is Haunting Europe

Šimon Pinkas + Political Capital / 2 Sep 2021

Since its inception in 2019, the project Authoritarian Shadows in the European Union, headed by the Hungarian think tank Political Capital, has been monitoring the voting patterns of MEPs in order to map their attitudes towards authoritarian states. The latest output of the project seeks not only to find out how MEPs perceive those states but also their opinions about the issues of disinformation and the Common EU Foreign Policy.

The study focuses on MEPs’ attitudes towards five distinct topics: China, Russia, other authoritarian regimes, Information Sovereignty, and Common EU Foreign Policy.

It showed that when it comes to their approach towards authoritarian regimes, the position of the MEPs is unified to at least a certain degree, as more than 78% of them hold very harsh attitudes towards those regimes. Of course, there are always exceptions, and mainly in the cases of Russia and China, there is a small number of MEPs, mostly in the fringe EP factions, which express sympathies towards them.

When it comes to the last two topics, there seems to be a much lower level of agreement. The EP’s struggle against disinformation seems to be mired in the perhaps understandable doubts of many MEPs about the impact of any legislation dealing with it on freedom of speech grounds. Similarly, the effort of the EP to advance the effort towards a Common EU Foreign Policy is being opposed, mainly by the more ideologically distinct MEPs.

Download the study summary (Czech) or the shortened version of the study (English) to learn more.