Pro-EU parties keep grip on the EP

Liberals and Greens matched a surge by eurosceptic parties

Photo: EPA A projection of seats is displayed in the hemicycle of EP, Brussels, 27 May.

Pro-European parties kept a firm grip on the EU parliament on Monday as liberal and green parties matched a surge by eurosceptic parties, who won control of a quarter of seats in European elections for the first time, news wires reported. Provisional results published at 08:18 GMT on Monday showed the Socialists, Greens, liberals and conservatives with 507 of the 751 seats in the EU Parliament.

The far-right and nationalists in Italy, Britain, France and Poland came out on top in their national votes on Sunday, shaking up politics at home but failing to dramatically alter the balance of pro-European power in EU assembly.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance platform added to gains for liberals at the EU level while support for the Greens surged, giving four groups the pro-EU middle ground and holding on to two-thirds of seats. Macron and Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez were to meet later on Monday, the first in a series of meetings between EU leaders before they gather for a summit on Tuesday evening in Brussels to discuss the outcome of the parliament vote.

A stronger voice for the liberals and Greens could see the next EU executive seek a tougher line on regulating polluting industries, taxing multinational companies or demanding trading partners help contain climate change. They could also press EU member states, notably in the east, not to damage civil rights, Reuters reported.

Turnout in the world’s second-biggest election rose to 51% from 43% in 2014, its highest in 20 years and the first reverse of falling participation since the first direct EU vote in 1979.

Provisional results for the EU Parliament put the EPP on 182 seats, ahead of the S&D on 147, with the liberals on 109, up 41 seats, and Greens on 69, up 17. On the far-right, two groups in the parliament had well over a 100 seats, a 40% jump from 2014.

Three existing eurosceptic groups, including those of Le Pen and Salvini’s League, will make up about 25% of the chamber, up from around 20 percent in the current parliament.

With four, rather than two, centrist alliances in the assembly, it is less clear who will be the next head of the Commission,” Guntram Wolff, the director of think-tank Bruegel, told Reuters. “First the parliament needs a coalition agreement on substance and personalities,” he said.

Leaders for the four pro-EU center parties were set to hold their first talks on Monday and there will be weeks and possibly months of hard bargaining over who will run EU institutions.

Parliament says one of its members should succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the executive European Commission but many national leaders, who will meet for dinner in Brussels on Tuesday, have said they will not be bound by that demand.

 

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