A few notes on the European Parliamentary elections

2 min read

The next few months will be probably spent by analyzing the results, the causes and the consequences of the last European Parliamentary elections.

But even if the dust has barely settled and the votes are still being counted, there are already a few takeaways.

1. An impressive list of casualties

After suffering a humiliating defeat by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (15.2 percent vs 31.5 percent), French President Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly dissolved the national assembly and called for snap elections (for June 30 and July 7).

Marine Le Pen was quick to announce that she was ready to exercise power and to “put the country back on its feet, ready to defend the interests of the French people, ready to put an end to mass immigration” and so on. Jean-Luc Melenchon hailed the end of “warmongering”, a not really veiled reference to the war in Ukraine.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo submitted his resignation (and King Philippe has already accepted it), after his Open VLD party suffered a heavy loss (gaining a mere 5.4 percent of votes) at an election that saw 82.9 percent voter turnout.

Though all parties in his coalition suffered losses, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ruled out snap elections, despite calls for it from both the AfD and from Bavaria. Following the “bitter defeat” (the SPD reached its worst ever result, with 13.9 percent) that was “bad for all three governing parties”, all he could promise was that they won’t return to “business as usual” and that they “have to do our work and ensure that our country makes progress and becomes more modern, ensuring that support grows so that we can present results and have the trust of citizens at the next federal elections”.

The euro decreased by 0.6 percent against the US dollar. All European indices traded in negative territory: though Paris’ CAC was hit the worst, going down by 1.7 percent, the DAX also fell by 0.7 percent, while Italy’s FTSE MIB lost 0.9 percent.

And this was just the first 24 hours.

2. Otherwise not much surprise

Various polls conducted in the last six months all projected similar results and those were mostly confirmed.

Significant victories for the “far-right” parties, but not as outstanding as some predicted; and losses on the left and centre, but not a complete defeat (in most cases, at least).

In fact, the mainstream parties still retained their majority in parliament. The EPP is projected to have 13 more seats than in 2019. Together with the battered Socialists and Democrats and the diminished Renew, the ‘grand coalition’ will still hold 403 seats (about 56 percent)

The new European Parliament will tilt to the right, though.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy secured 28.8 percent of the vote, thereby turning her into a key power broker in the future parliament. The right surged in Austria, too: the far-right FPÖ topped the polls and gained 25.7 percent of the votes (doubling its MEPs to six). Germany’s AfD beat its own 2019 results and reached 14.2 percent.

In the Netherlands, the change is less visible: first, because it already happened last year, and secondly, because the right-wing PVV’s slight underperformance.

Probably the greatest surprise was the loss suffered by the Greens in Austria and Germany. Their fall is bigger than what was previously expected. (Not an outright shock, though: voters usually don’t reward politicians who openly ignore their opinions, like German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock did.) This sets back the Greens in the European Parliament with 19 seats (from 72 to 53).

The liberal Renew lost the exact same amount, falling from 102 seats to 83.

3. What’s next for … Ukraine?

One of the less talked about aspect is (and maybe will be for a while) is that the countries where the ruling government suffered the most significant defeat are the very same ones that were at the forefront of the ongoing support for Ukraine.

Germany and France were the first EU members to sign bilateral security agreements with Kyiv, closely followed by Belgium and the Netherlands. France was the country to first float (openly) the possibility of sending NATO soldiers to Ukraine.

And these were the very same countries where their opponents campaigned with “…. First” (insert the respective country name) style messages, urging the governments to prioritize their own national interests first.

It might be too early to tell, how the election results will influence the support for Ukraine, but the voters have spoken.

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