Between the 23rd and the 26th of May, 427million people across 28 countries were called to vote for the European elections. At stake, there were 751 seats of the European Parliament.
This election was particularly crucial for it happens after 5 long years in which different events occurred: the migrants’ crisis in the Mediterranean, the refugee emergency on the Eastern borders, an increasing urgency to deal with environmental issues and much more.
Therefore, many people expected a rise in the seats for the eurosceptics coalitions such as the ENF (Europe of Nations and Freedom) and for the Greens.
In the end, the main force that resulted as the winner is the EPP (European People’s Party), achieving 177 seats and 23,57% of the vote. The coalition lost 36 seats compared to 2014. The Socialists and Democrats decreased in size as well (from 205 to 146), but they again reconfirmed as the second main group in the European Parliament.
The Greens had a much bigger success than expected and went from 41 to 69 seats, while the EFD (Europe of Freedom and Democracy) gained 15 seats, and now has 54.
If we look at these results altogether, it is possible to grasp a trend towards certain preferences. This could also lead to some misleading conclusions, consequently that’s why it is necessary to look at single countries. I chose 4 countries, due to the limited amount of space and time to examine some of the most surprising results: Italy, France, Germany, and Hungary.
The winning party in Italy is resulted to be the Lega, ruled by Salvini, in the EFD coalition for the European Parliament. Lega won with 34%, becoming the first party in Italy. Obtaining 22% of the preferences, the Democratic Party (PD) places second; the 5 Star Movement secured the 17% of the preferences.
This depicts quite an odd image of Italy, which a year ago had the 5Star Movement as the main party and saw a huge drop of consensus for PD.
A year of bad governance from the M5S and populist propaganda from Salvini did most of the job. Those who refused to vote for PD in the previous elections realized that the only way to stop Salvini ascension was to vote for the Democratic opponent. Plus, the bad governance of the 5 Star movement and the hard fist of Salvini regarding migration raised up the consensus for Lega and allowed the M5s to lose a big part of its electorate.
Macron’s party, La République En Marche, places right after the Front Nationale of Marine Le Pen.
The difference between the two parties was not too narrow, less than 1%, but it says a lot about France current situation.
The votes for Macron come from the main cities of France, while Front Nationale won in the rural areas and countryside, where people feel the more affected by the increasing competition brought by globalization and market liberalization and attribute the downside of this to the European Union policies.
As we knew, Macron went through some hard times during the past months, facing the protest of the yellow jackets, which had affected his popularity.
Surprisingly for France, the green party places third, showing that French people are taking climate change challenges more seriously.
Germany is the country where the green phenomenon had mostly been seen. If Merkel party, CDU, achieved the 28,9%, the Greens are second with a 20,5 % (the party had 10,7% in 2014). SPD arrived third, with around a million votes less compared to the previous elections.
CDU, which is part of the EPP, reconfirms itself as the major force in the German panorama, though with far fewer votes compared to the 2014 elections. The increase of consensus for the green is a clear representation of a shift in priority for the German people, which shows themselves as more focused on climate and the environment than the rest of Europe.
It is a necessity to look at Hungary to see the striking results of the Orban party, Fidesz, which won with a 52,3%. Orban is well known for his hardcore conservatism, which he can now bring in the European Parliament with his 17 seats.
Orban speeches after the results were quite clear on the policies his party will pursue: stop migration in Europe and protect the European Christian culture.
Fidesz is part of the EPP, which saw many protests around Europe, due to the fact that moderate Christian Democratic party such as CDU (Germany) have to be in the same group as someone whose policy often went against the European Union regulation, for example during the refugee crisis.
What is the future of Europe?
The future of Europe still looks bright. I personally see the greens as a sign of hope that things are changing, the shifting of preferences from more traditional groups such as the PPE to the greens is not a matter to be worried about. What it’s more concerning is the growth of consensus in some areas of Southern Europe for the eurosceptics.
Hate speech and populism are growing stronger in the whole Eurozone, but some countries are dealing with it in better ways than others. In the Netherlands, where the Labour Party became the first party for the European election while PVV (the nationalist Party for Freedom) lost all of its four seats in the Parliament.
Looking at single countries shows a Europe divided into blocks: the eurosceptics block in Italy, France and many of Eastern Europe countries, and then the Northern block, which is still holding up strongly to the values of democracy, Europeanization, humanitarianism and so on.