All you need to know about the European elections

euelec enews

From 22 to 25 May 2014, over 170 million Europeans elected their 751 representatives at the European Parliament (EP). It was the 8th parliamentary election since the first direct elections in 1979, and the first in which the pan-European political parties fielded candidates for president of the Commission. The European People’s Party (EPP) obtained 221 seats and maintained its position as the largest party in the European Parliament for a fourth consecutive time in EP elections. The Party of European Socialists (PES) and its coalition members, grouped under the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), came second with 191 seats. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) lost one rank at the advantage of the European Conservatives and Reformists with 63 seats against 59. No party obtained a majority.

Voter turnout was 43.09%, marginally higher than in the preceding election (43%). For the first time, participation was higher than in the election immediately before.

The surprise of the electoral night was the results of eurosceptic parties. This broadly defined group gained more seats than in preceding elections and parties such as the Front National and the United Kingdom‘s Independent Party won the elections in France and the UK, respectively.

A novelty in these elections is that the results will have to “be taken into account” by the EU Member States when they nominate the next president of the European Commission. Shortly after the elections, the leaders of five of the parliament’s seven groups issued a statement saying that the candidate from the winning party – Jean Claude Juncker (EPP, LUX) – should be nominated by the European Council to be President of the European Commission.

Inter-institutional discussions for the appointment of a person to the top job at the Commission and at other EU institutions are ongoing and will take weeks / months to materialise. The calendar of key appointments as scheduled is: EP President (1-3 July); ECON Chair (14 July) and President of the European Commission (16 July).

In the meantime, a good number of parties and individual MEPs are deciding their final destination within the existing Parliaments’ political groups. This process may lead to the creation, disappearance of recomposition of political groups and is particularly relevant for determining the possible coalitions that will help shape and approve European legislation in important areas such as financial services over the next five years. The Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, home to the UKIP, runs the risk of disappearing as it does not currently command MEPs from at least 7 Member States.  In a similar situation is the French Front National, from Marine Le Pen, who is struggling to attract a sufficiently geographically diversified number of MEPs to establish an anticipated European Alliance for Freedom group.


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