Voters have chosen a fractured European Parliament. For the first time in the history of the EU the centre-right and centre-left political groups have lost their combined majority in the face of strengthened Green, populist and nationalist forces. This divided parliament will find it more difficult than ever before to set the course of the EU’s future.
Here is what else we have learnt from the results.
Centre pro-EU forces hold up, but fragmented
The centre-right European People’s party (EPP) and centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) lost their combined majority for the first time in a generation, benefiting Greens and Liberals. This means they might need to seek support of other parties to form ad-hoc coalitions on subject-by-subject basis. This heralds complicated negotiations over contentious subjects such as the EU budget, trade, border policies and the rule of law in countries like Poland and Hungary.
Greens flying high
It was a good night for the Greens across Europe. They came second in Germany, third in France and overtook Conservatives in the UK finishing fourth behind Brexit, Liberal Democrats and Labour.
Europeans turned out in big numbers
Turnout figures went up across Europe, boosting Liberals and Greens. Bucking a decades-long trend, 20 of the 28 EU countries recorded an uptick in turnout. Nine of them saw a double-digit increase, a sign that voters were motivated to make their voices heard amid increasing polarisation of EU politics.
Eurosceptics fail to impress
Eurosceptic and far-right parties made gains but fell short of expectations. They remain roughly a quarter of MEPs, with Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) making the biggest gains with 58 seats, an increase of 21 on the previous ballot.
The ENF, until now the smallest faction in parliament, was propelled by the success of Italy’s League and France’s National Rally. EFDD on the other hand capitalised on the surge of UK’s Brexit Party, which took a third of UK’s vote. European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) faltered after an abysmal performance of UK’s Conservatives.
Far-right strong at national level
However, the strength of the far-right parties will probably be felt in their home countries, especially in France and Italy, where Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and Matteo Salvini’s League came top of the polls. The results will reinforce their rhetoric of the election as a litmus test of their popularity.
Note: The figures are based on provisional results with the exception of Cyprus, Ireland and UK, where figures are based on estimates.