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Europe has voted. And you are probably in the process of analyzing the election for yourself as I am: What does the result mean for Europe as a whole, for your country, your region? Here are a few quick summary results [update: Monday, 11:41 am].
A positive aspect is that voter turnout increased in almost all European countries. In total, it lies at almost at 51 percent – almost 10 percent more than in 2014 (42.61) or 2009 (42.97). Two of the EU founding states – Belgium (88.4%) and Luxembourg (84.1%) – and the smallest EU state Malta (72.7%) stand out particularly in this regard. Furthermore, in Denmark, Spain and Germany over sixty percent of the electorate voted (66%, 64.3% and 61% respectively). In all other countries turnout was lower, but Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia were significantly below the average with voter turnouts of less than 30 percent.
The two largest political groups in the EU Parliament – the Christian Democrats (EPP) and the Social Democrats (S&D) – will still hold most of the seats. Nevertheless, they are not among the big winners of this election. It is the Group of Liberals and Democrats ALDE (from 9.3 to 14.5 per cent) and the Greens/European Free Alliance (from 6.6 to 9.2 per cent) which have made the largest gains in terms of votes and expected seats. They thus become the third and fourth strongest forces in the European Parliament and will probably play a decisive role in the formation of a stable majority. The landslide victory of the right-wing populists and nationalists as expected and feared by many failed to materialise, in fact, they received in total a lower percentage of the vote than the Alliance of Liberals or the Greens. Nevertheless, they were able to further increase their number of seats and thus their future influence will be greater, and in some larger European States they even represent the strongest political force (France, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Great Britain), which will also have national consequences.
The two largest groups in the EU Parliament to date – the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats (S&D) – will remain the strongest forces in Europe. The Christian Democrats with their top candidate Manfred Weber won 180 seats, the Alliance of Social Democrats with Frans Timmermann secured 146 seats. However, both groups lost at least 5 percentage points each meaning that their grand coalition was voted out. Five years ago, together, they represented 54.8% of the vote, now this has decreased to approx. 43.4%. Together, they are expected to hold only 326 seats instead of 412. The European Conservatives and Reformers, who were the third strongest force in Parliament from 2014-2019, have also lost percentage points and are now relegated to fifth place behind the ALDE and the Greens.
The big players
The following six states occupy the most seats in the EU Parliament, so a closer look is interesting: Germany (96), France (74), Italy and the United Kingdom (73 each), Spain (54) and Poland (51). In Germany, the most populous EU member state, the Christian Democrats have clearly won with 28 percent, followed by a very strong Green Party (plus 10 percent), which has replaced the Social Democrats as the second strongest party, the latter now only occupies the third place. In Spain, on the other hand, the Socialists have become the strongest party (apart of the Iberian Peninsula, this is only the case in Portugal, the Netherlands and Malta), followed by the Christian Democrats. In the other four large member states, however, the situation is different: In all countries, the nationalist forces have become the strongest parties: in France the party of Marine Le Pen (23%), in Italy Salvini’s Lega (34%), in Great Britain the Brexit party of Nigel Farage (31%) and in Poland the national conservative governing party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (45%). The second strongest force in Poland is the Christian Democrats (38%), who were number one four years ago, in France it is the alliance of President Macron (22%), in Italy, surprisingly, the Social Democrats of the Partito Democratico (23%), in Great Britain, as in France, the Liberal Democrats (18%). According to current forecasts, these nationalist parties will occupy a total of 102 of the 271 seats allocated to their countries – not the majority, but at least a third.
Now it’s getting exciting and which parties will form a coalition may represent a historic turning point for the EU parliament. The previous coalition of EPP and S&D no longer has sufficient numbers, as together they have only circa 326 seats out of 751. There are several options for a majority: a coalition of EPP, S&D and the Liberals and Democrats or a coalition of EPP, S&D and the Greens or all of these parties together. The new Parliament will meet for the first time at the beginning of July and then the discussions about the upcoming President of the Commission will begin in earnest.
|Greta Klotz is researcher and PhD student at the Institute for Comparative Federalism, Eurac Research. Holding a degree in Political Science and History, her main fields of interest are local governance in Europe, autonomy issues, cross-border cooperation and participatory democracy at local level. Since 2012, she has managed the Winter School on Federalism and Governance with great passion. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and shaping local politics as local councillor in her home village.|