European Union
EP results show that the Parties in favour of the EU are still a force to be reckoned with

The results of European Parliament elections in 28 countries showed that the parties in favour of the European Union were still a force to be reckoned wiht even if the two largest political groups – the European People’s Party and the Socialists – which represent the groups that are home to six Maltese Euro Parliamentarians – lost 86 seats between them and no longer command a majority. Both groups together are expected to have 326 members in a Parliament of 751 members.

The Liberals and the Greens, the third and fourth largest parties in the European Parliament who are also in favour of the European Union saw an increase of 42 seats and 19 seats respectively. The new extreme right group which includes the parties of Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini will have 58 members in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament elections were held to elect 751 Europarliamentarians for the next five years, six of which are Maltese. The outcome of the elections in 28 countries have resulted in a complex political mosaic.

Perhaps the most significant is that 51% of voters voted in this election – the highest percentage in the last 20 years and for the first time in 40 years, the two largest political groups – the centre-right EPP Group and the centre-left Socialist Group lost their majority.

This was mainly due to the fact that in Germany, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats experienced a slump while in France and Italy, the centre right parties did very badly. The same can be said for the Socialists in France and the UK – with the Brexit backdrop – who placed third with 10 seats with Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn saying that the party agreed with a second referendum.

In the UK, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party won a third of the seats with 29 seats, followed by the pro EU Liberals who won 15 seats. Meanwhile it was a disastrous result for the party in government with the Conservatives electing four deputies. The result showed an equal split between those in favor and against Brexit.

In Italy, France and Poland, the extreme right anti-immigration and anti-EU parties obtained the largest number of votes. The leader of Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini said that in light of the 34 % result obtained the European Union needed to re-discuss its fiscal rules.

“We must revise policies to restore growth in Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Finland, Sweden, everywhere” said Salvini.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s right wing party has become the largest party and previously obtained a percentage (23.6 – 22.6%) of President Emanuel Macron’s centrist Party while the Green Party surprised everybody by coming in third place with 13% of the votes.

In Spain, Pedro Sanzhez’s Socialists made important victories in three elections which are likely to earn him more leverage in negotiations with smaller parties to form a new government. At the same time the Catalan separatists, Carlos Puigdemont who is exiled and Oriol Junqueras who is imprisoned have been elected to the European Parliament.

In Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a general election after losing by a ten percent gap.

Although more than half of the countries have yet to announce their final results, new faces are already being discussed in the corridors of the European Parliament including former Italian Prime Minister, 82 year old Silvio Berlusconi. However, the most important discussion to take place revolves around who will be the President of the European Commission, with Liberals stating that the European People’s Party candidate Manfred Weber, should be disqualified. Michel Barnier is expected to be proposed in his stead.

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