Centrist bloc to lose majority in EU vote as Greens and euroskeptics gain, early results show
The EU Parliament will be much more fragmented over the next five years with the established centrist bloc failing to gain a majority at this week’s election, early election results and projections show.
The initial results on Sunday evening suggested a strong showing for Liberal and Green parties, with euroskeptic groups in France and the U.K. holding the gains they saw in 2014. Italy’s anti-immigration Lega party was also expected to make large gains, according to exit polls.
It means that pro-EU parties will hold on to two-thirds of the seats at the EU Parliament, though nationalist opponents have also produced solid gains.
One of its biggest challenges is voter turnout, however, early indications show that figure has hit 50.5% this year. That’s up from 43% in the 2014 election.
This year’s vote was particularly relevant due to the surge of anti-EU and nationalist parties across the region. However, the pro-EU parties look to have largely held their ground in many countries and the euro rose slightly in early Asian trading Sunday.
Holger Schmieding, an economist at Berenberg, said there had been “no dramatic upset” in a research note as the early exit polls were released.
“Defying the doomsayers once again, Europe continues to muddle through reasonably well. Judging by exit polls and first projections, the EU election will result in a more fragmented parliament with a slightly increased presence of euroskeptic right-wing parties,” he said.
However, he added that “the deeply divided right-wingers will remain far away from wielding any significant power at the European level. They will not be able to block significant decisions.”
In France, Marine Le Pen’s euroskeptic National Rally topped the European election vote in France, according to exit polls published Sunday.
It looks set to narrowly beating the centrist alliance of President Emmanuel Macron in a symbolic victory for nationalist supporters across the bloc. In a statement, Macron’s office described the performance as disappointing but not disastrous. It also said pro-EU parties were still in the majority.
Projected results in the U.K. showed the newly-formed Brexit Party comfortably beat the country’s two main parties, as voters expressed their frustration over the current deadlock over the withdrawal from the EU.
The comes shortly after Conservative Party leader Theresa May announced her resignation as prime minister on Friday morning.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance secured the most seats in Germany in the European Parliament election on Sunday, early results showed, with the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany (Afd) party set to finish second and fourth respectively.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and its partner the Christian Social Union, received roughly 28% of the vote share, followed by the Greens with approximately 21%.