May 30, 2019

European Parliament 2019–2024. Provisional results

Roman Kot

May 23–26, 2019, voters of the 28 EU Member States elected a new European Parliament. From the very beginning, the election campaign was subject to special and even excessive attention (as compared with the voters' traditional perceptions of this institution as a secondary one). Several factors contributed to this: the growing popularity of populists all over Europe, the decline in trusting traditional European-wide political forces: the “European People's Party” (EPP) and, in particular, the “Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats” (S&D), and greater attention to problems of ecology.

All these trends were manifested during the voting and in general, with some exceptions, confirmed our forecast from February 2019 about fragmentation of the European politicum.



The Centrists' Monopoly Gone

For the first time since the creation of the European Parliament, two key political forces — the right-centered “European People's Party” and the left-centered “Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats” scored less than half of the mandates between themselves, which makes it impossible to form even a broad coalition of these two forces, as in the previous convocation. Their total result is 322 mandates for the required 376.

According to preliminary data, the EPP can count on 179 mandates, which is 42 fewer than in previous elections.

This is first of all due to the fall of the popularity of the CDU/CSU in Germany — from 34 to 28 mandates, right-centred parties in France — from 20 to 8, in Italy — from 17 to 8, and the “People's Party” in Spain — from 16 to 12 seats.

Particularly shocking is the widespread worsening of the results of Social Democrats (S&D), with the exception of Spain, Denmark and Belgium. S&D won 153 seats, which is 37 fewer than in 2014.

At the same time, the centrist “Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe” (ALDE), which is potentially the first contender for coalition membership with two major factions, has considerably strengthened its positions. Taking into account the mandates of the party of the French President Emmanuel Macron “La République En Marche!” they can count on 105 MPs.

European Parliament 2019–2024. Provisional results
European Parliament 2019–2024. Provisional results

Green Surprises

A surprise of these elections was a slight but tangible strengthening of “green” parties. The “Greens/European Free Alliance” faction will also increase from 50 to 69 seats.

In particular, in Germany, “greens” ranked second with 20 % and increased the number of seats from 13 to 21. In France, the “Europe Écologie Les Verts” (EELV) ranked third, increasing its representation in the European Parliament from 6 to 12 seats. Besides, “green” parties became more popular in the UK, increasing their representation from 6 to 11 seats, and also confirmed their traditionally high result in the countries of North and North-Western Europe: the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland and Belgium.


Euroskeptics' Marking Time

As for the right-populist parties, in some countries, such as Italy or France, they expectedly achieved high results. But in general, it turned out to be lower than predicted for them.

By the results of the elections, the “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy” faction added 6 mandates (from 48 to 54), mainly due to the success of the “Brexit Party” in the UK, which unexpectedly became first with 29 seats and defeated the Conservatives and the Labor Party. At the same time, the “Alternative for Germany” and the Italian “Five Star Movement” improved their results insignificantly — from 7 to 11 and from 11 to 14 mandates, respectively.

Another Euro-skeptic faction of the European Parliament — “Europe of Nations and Freedom” increased its presence from 38 to 58 seats. The main locomotives were the “National Rally” in France — from 15 to 22, the “Northern League” in Italy — from 6 to 28, besides, relatively high results were received by the “Europe of Nations and Freedom” in Belgium — 11.45 % and in Austria — 17.2 %. However, given the small size of these countries, this does not affect the overall number of mandates.

It should be noted that partly the results of the right-populist parties were affected by their opponents' information campaign, caused by the political scandal in Austria, which erupted on the eve of the elections.

As you know, on May 17, 2019, influential German left-wing editions Süddeutsche Zeitung and Spiegel reported that in July 2017, a hidden camera in a villa in Ibiza's spa filmed a meeting of the leader of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) — Vice Chancellor of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache and the FPÖ parliament group leader Johann Gudenus, with allegedly Russian Aliona Makarova, who called herself the niece of one of the oligarchs, who is part of Putin's environment. The interlocutors discussed possible participation of Russian capital of dubious origin in the preparation of the regular elections to the Austrian Parliament in 2017. The scandal was used for criticism and accusations of relations with Russia, not only against the Freedom Party of Austria, but also against other political forces close to it by spirit. Nevertheless, the results of the election show that such attempts to compromise right-populists did not bring significant success.

As shown by the elections, such measures, although they did not turn off their “nuclear” electorate from these political forces, did limit the influx of new voices.

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The results of the European Parliament elections confirmed and fixed the fragmentation of the European political community for the next 5 years. Having not enough seats by the forces traditionally dominant in the European Parliament, may cause difficulties in the formation of the coalition and, as a consequence, decision-making problems and strengthening of the role of the EU Council. Since the European Parliament has always been the institution supporting Eastern Partnership countries, in particular, Ukraine, paralysis of this body could have a negative impact on the bilateral relations between Kyiv and Brussels.