It would be extremely interesting if we had the opportunity, on Tuesday 28 May, to sneak into the informal dinner of Heads of State or Government, convened by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to “discuss the results of the elections” to the European Parliament and “start the nomination process for the heads of the EU institutions”, i.e. the presidents of the Commission, Council and the ECB. As a rule, the summit is held behind closed doors and the conclusions reached by the leaders of the member Countries are communicated in official documents and rather formal press conferences. But this time the confrontation is expected to be harsh, for in the light of the May 23-26 election, European politics has become even more polarized between “Europhiles” (they will still hold a majority in Strasbourg) on the one side and “Europhobics” (in significant increase) on the other. In these conditions, establishing who will hold the reins the EU for the next five years is likely to be a major challenge.
Increased turnout. Some observations can be made in the aftermath of the major test of democracy that has taken place in Europe, starting with voter turnout. One in two voters have expressed their preference, reversing a downward pathological trend ongoing since 1979 (the first election of the Eurochamber by universal suffrage): in 2014 42.6% of European citizens went to the polls, while yesterday they were 50.9%. Italy, even though above the EU average, registered a loss with a turnout of around 56%, two percentage points less compared to 2014. Voters in Poland increased by 20%, while among the least attached to EU elections figure several countries in Central and Eastern Europe: Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the three Baltic States. Although these Countries received EU funding, the “spirit” of the Union is – apparently – lagging behind.
The next hemicycle. At this time, the European Parliament continues receiving electoral data from the 28 Member States. Definitive results are still missing, but according to the latest projections on the composition of the new hemicycle in Brussels, a majority of pro-EU parties and a stronger – albeit minority – presence of “Eurosceptic” MEPs have been confirmed. Of 751 total seats, the People’ s Party (the allocation of seats is therefore to be defined more precisely) won 180 seats, while the Socialists and Democrats took 146 seats;
the two historical political groups of the Euro-Assembly are thus due to suffer net losses.
The Liberals and Democrats, on the other hand, are set to win 109 seats, thanks to a large number of MEPs in the French coalition bolstered by President Macron. The Green bloc is set to earn 69 seats, thanks to the big gains in Germany, France, Britain and elsewhere. Summed up, the members of the “Europeanist” bloc – albeit different from each other – (EPP, Socialists and Democrats, Liberals and Greens)- number 504 seats. The Conservatives stop at 59 (mostly Poles), the ENF group (with the League and Le Pen) gained 58 seats, the EDFD (comprising Italy’s Five Stars and Farage’s Brexiteers) 54. The number of deputies of the United Left fell to 39; finally, thirty-seven seats are set to go to non affiliated parties or MEPs.
A political puzzle. If we look at national data, the European Union emerges as a political mishmash. Indeed, those were “European” votes, (with 28 different electoral systems) which amount to a sum of “national” elections, where, once again, elements and phenomena pertaining to domestic politics prevail, in the absence of a continental public opinion, of transnational parties and media, and above all in the absence of a true, widespread feeling of “European citizenship”. Thus, on the basis of national results, Brussels – rightly or wrongly – refers to Italy and Hungary as the two most Eurosceptic countries of the Union. The successes of Salvini, Orban, and Le Pen in France, call Europe as a whole into question.
Country by Country. In this Europe, more than ever “united in diversity”, albeit marked by losses, Germany ranks first with the CDU/CSU alliance led by outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel (28.9%), followed by the successful Greens (20.5), and by a defeated SPD (15.8); the anti-European Alternative für Deutschland gained less than 11%.
Marine Le Pen is once again the French star of these elections
Her Rassemblement National, ranks first (23.1%), celebrating a victory on Emmanuel Macron’s national Coalition (22,4%); “Ecolò” came in third with 13.4%. Poland’s Euro-sceptic ruling party Law and Justice gained 45.6%, of the vote, distanced by its antagonist party, European Coalition, with 38.3. Victory in Spain for Socialist premier Pedro Sanchez: 32.8% of vote flowed into his party; the People’s Party remains stable at 20.1%, just like Ciudadanos (centrists; 12.2) and Podemos (left; 10.1); only 6.2% of the votes went to ultra-right, anti-Europe party Vox.
And then we have the “English case”: Britain failed to organize itself in time and – as promised – leave the EU before this election, thereby paradoxically ending up voting to elect British MPs in Strasbourg. Breexiter leader Nigel Farage had a good game, bringing his Brexit Party (31.7%) to top British politics, long-distanced by pro-Europe Liberal Democrats (18.6). Both Labour (14.1%) and the Tories (8.7) headed by resigning premier Theresa May, were punished by citizens in EU elections. The British Greens did well with 11.1%. In Hungary, as mentioned, the controversial Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an anti-European nationalist member of the EPP bloc, won 52.3% of the vote: he is practically unrivalled in his country.