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 results and projections show.
The initial results on Sunday evening suggested a strong showing for Liberal and Green parties, with eurosceptic 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 onto two-thirds of the seats at the EU Parliament, though nationalist opponents have also produced a solid result. The lack of a majority for the centrist bloc — the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialist and Democrats (S&D) which has held power in Brussels for several decades — could further complicate decision-making at the European Union.
Voter turnout has typically been one of the EU election’s biggest challenges. But, early indications show that figure has hit 50.5% this year, 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 Asia 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 eurosceptic 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 significuropean election vote, according to exit polls published Sunday, narrowly beating the centrist alliance of President Emmanuel Macron.
In France, Marine Le Pen’s eurosceptic National Rally topped the EThe narrow victory for Le Pen’s party marked 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 had comfortably beat the country’s two main parties, with voters expressing their frustration over deadlock in Westminster.
It 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, the early results showed, with the Greens and the anti-immigration 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%.
Meanwhile in Italy, the Lega party picked up the most votes, according to exit polls, comfortably beating its coalition partner the Five Star Movement (M5S).
Early results showed Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s Lega party had secured around 28% of the vote, up from 17% at the national vote last year and 6% at the last EU ballot in 2014.
M5S, led by Italy’s other deputy leader Luigi Di Maio, looked on track to receive around 20% of the vote. That compared with 32% in the 2018 country-wide election and 21% in the EU vote five years ago.
The result could herald a dramatic shift in the coalition government’s dynamic, following months of wrangling over their respective manifestos and ministerial appointments.
Why it matters?
The European parliamentary election is the second-largest democratic exercise in the world, with citizens across 28 nations voting for their new representatives. Over 400 million people are eligible to take part.
The vote has major implications for the functioning of the bloc and the future of national politics in each member state. The EU Parliament has a say on policies like agriculture and trade and is made up of 751 MEPs (members of the European Parliament).