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Electorates’ differences reveal complicated EU’s future

Eugene Eteris.

Eugene Eteris, BC, Copenhagen

The eighth direct elections for the European Parliament since 1979, that took place at the end of May, revealed enormous differences among electorates. The differences reflect a complicated mix of European political debate with specific national agendas (results in the Baltic States are shown as well). Changes in popular and political perceptions following the elections would definitely affect business.

European electorates’ activity was at the level of the last elections in 2009 – about 43 per cent; that means that 180 mln EU citizens took part in the elections in the EU-28 states. However there were less active states, e.g. Czech Republic and Slovakia with about 13 per cent activity.

Overcoming the recession and a successful crisis management drew attention during the election campaign to common challenges for financial stability, growth and employment. The tense situation in Eastern Europe has shown that peace and stability in Europe are valuable commodities and cannot be taken for granted. However, the election campaign also revealed Eurosceptic sentiments which cannot be ignored.

European political parties were facing great challenges; the increasing influence and democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament was reflected in the elections. Together with a positive message “Europe can do better”, the parties demonstrated the political alternatives for the next five years. While the conversion from votes’ results into MEPs’ happens quickly, the formation of political groups in the EP will take more time. Thus to make a political group needs minimum 25 MEPs from at least 7 member states.
Source: http://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/doc/actualites/programme-analysis-ep-electio; Policy paper nr.314, 26.05.2014.

Dominating nationalism & Eurosceptcs

Forces from the “right” political spectrum dominated in 17 member states: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Holland, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia.

In 4 EU member states dominated so-called popular forces: Denmark, France, Greece and the UK. In other 8 member states these forces took a substantial number of votes: in Germany Austria, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Hungary, Italy and Sweden.

Anti-EU feelings cover about 30% of the total MEPs in the Parliament. However, about two-third of the EP’s seats remain in the hands of parties that have led the European Union to the present progress in integration.

Outcomes in the Baltic States

Estonia (6 MEPs): Reform party – 2 MEPs affiliated with ALDE*); Center party – 1 MEP –ALDE; Social-democrats –1MEP –S&D; Res-Publica – MEP –PPE and Independent MEP – 1 to Verts/ALE group.

Latvia (8 MEPs): Unity party (Venotiba) – 4 MEPs affiliated with PPE; TB/LNNK – 1 MEP with CRE; SDP –1 MEP to S&D; ZZS (Greens-Agro) – MEP with Verts/ALE and LKS – 1 MEP with Verts/ALE.

Lithuania (11 MEPs): TS-LK (conservatives) – 2 MEPs affiliated with PPE; LSDP (social democrats) – 2 MEPs in S&D; LRLS – 2 MEPs in ALDE; TT (Justice & Order party) – 2 MEPs in ELD; DP (labor party) – 1 MEP in CRE and LUZS –1MEP –independent.

*) More on the European Parties see:
eng/analytics/?doc=91428&ins_print ;

Outgoing President’s opinion

In the Commission’s President statement following the outcome of the 2014 European Parliament elections underlined that the outcomes differed significantly in the EU member states. The results reflect the fact that the elections followed the biggest financial, economic and ultimately social crisis in decades.

However, the President mentioned, the political forces that led and supported the essential steps in the Union's joint crisis response, notably the political forces represented in the European Commission, have overall won once again. They showed a fundamental consensus for Europe that should now be reinforced.

“Standing together as Europeans is indispensable for Europe to shape a global order and defend European values and interests. It is now essential to have a clear understanding of political priorities for the next political cycle, so that a proper institutional transition according to the treaty rules demonstrates the Union's capacity to act”.
Reference: http://ec.europa.eu/commission/president/news/2014/05/20140526_1_en.htm

EP’s preliminary structure

This time 751 MEPs are elected to the EP from 28 states. The number of seats varied from the biggest, e.g. Germany with 96 MEPs, France –74, the UK and Italy –73 each to Malta with only 6 MEPs.

Total number of MEPs in the Baltic States –25, though they are dispersed along different political affiliations.

According to the preliminary account, the structure of European party groups in the EP is the following:

= PPE/EPP (European Peoples Party) – Center-right party, conservatives – 28,5 % with 215 MEPs (minus 60 MEPs compared with 2009 elections when they got 275 MEPs). Its candidate for the Commission’s post is Jean-Claude Juncker.
= S&D/PES (center-left socialists) – 25,2% with 189 MEPs (minus 7 MEPs); Martin Schulz is the party’s candidate for the coming Commission President’s position.
In previous elections, these leading parties occupied the following positions: 275 MEPs – European People’s Party (EPP) and 194 MEPs for Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D);
= ALDE (liberal democrats) with 8,8% of votes and 66 MEPs (minus 17 MEPs);
= Greens-Verts/ALE – about 7% of votes and 52 MEPs (minus 5 MEPs);
= CRE/ECR –conservatives and reformists with over 6% of votes and 46 MEPs (minus 11 MEPs);
= GUE/NGL – United left parties – with about 5,6% of votes and 42 MEPs (plus 7 MEPs);
= ELD/EFD –Liberal democrats with 5,5% of votes and 41 MEPs (plus 10 MEPs)
= NI –Independent MEPs – 5% of votes and 38 MEPs (plus 5 MEPs).

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