(BRUSSELS) – Europe’s voters delivered a shake-up message in the European Parliament elections Monday, with strong results for the far-right in France and the Greens in Germany, as well as the Brexit party in the UK.
However, populists did not have the overwhelming victories that some had been led to expect.
The Far Right led by Marine Le Pen in France won only a narrow victory over French President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Renaissance’ movement.
In Germany, where voter turnout was up by 13 per cent, the Green Party rose to second place, as support rose to 20.5% from 10.7%. There were big swings away from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Social Democratic Party (SPD) coalition partner. The far-right AfD party made gains with an 11% share, compared to 7.1% in the last vote.
In Britain, the newly-formed Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, and with only one policy, to leave the EU and then to trade with countries on World Trade Organization terms, won a clear majority. However, there was a strong performance by the Liberal Democrats, who came second, as well as the Green party. The two Conservative and Labour suffered massive losses.
Eurosceptic parties did well in Italy, Sweden, Hungary and Poland, but they fell short of a surge across the whole region.
For the first time in 40 years, the two largest EU party groups, the centre-right European People’s Party and centre-left European Socialists failed to win a majority. Their combined total number of MEPs is not enough for forming a coalition with a majority in the new European Parliament.
The EPP is projected to win 179 seats, down from 216 in the 2014 elections. The Socialists and Democrats are expected to to drop from 191 seats to 150.
Some 427 million voters from across the 28 EU member states were eligible to vote in the 2019 EU Parliament elections, which were held between May 23 and 26.
The likely effect of the Euro-elections on the British parliamentary landscape is that a new Conservative leader is likely to move to the right perhaps favouring the ‘no-deal’ scenario. And the Labour party is likely to move closer to offering a confirmatory referendum vote for the British people. on any deal, with ‘remain’ being an option.
Following the European Parliament election results, the leaders of the EU are now perhaps even less likely to be willing to re-open negotiations on the withdrawal agreement.