The European Parliament elections took place on the 4-day period between the 23rd and 26th of May. More than 400 million citizens were urged to vote across 28 countries. At 50.97%, the projected overall turnout is the highest for the last 25 years. The European Parliament shared provisional results of overall turnout and country by country percentages. In many countries civil society organisations contributed to raise awareness of the elections and put the issues that matter into the debate and helped bring a message of hope about the Europe we want.
In terms of parliamentary gains and losses, the traditional centre-left (S&D) and centre-right (EPP) political families appear to have lost their majority for the first time in the European Parliament. While the Green parties (EFA) and the liberal parties (ALDE) increased their share of the seats. Indeed, the EPP gained 178 seats (compared to 216 in 2014) and the S&D gained 153 seats (compared to 185), ALDE with Macron’s Renaissance became the third party in the Parliament with an increase of 36 seats, jumping towards 105 seats, letting the long-held majority of the traditional parties be broken. Another relevant factual information coming out of the 2019 EP Elections is the rise, albeit limited, of the far-right nationalists parties who managed to gain, between the EFDD and the ENF (Salvini’s Alliance) 34 seats, bringing them to a total of 112 seats. However, this rise is to be taken with relativity as the political groups of the far-right parties are somehow fragmented and divisive, which, at the time of writing, won’t affect sustainably the landscape of the European Parliament.
The projections in terms of coalition to form a viable and working majority within the European Parliament have been circulating around and the main information that is needed to be pointed out is that the EPP is surely needed to form a majority. However, a two-party majority is most unlikely, as the EPP needs at least the S&D and ALDE, or the S&D and the Greens, if not all four of these political groups to form a majority.
The European elections and their outcome have started the debate and the discussions over the EU top jobs for the next five years. These positions are: The President of the Commission (next Juncker), of the EU Council (next Tusk), the High Commissioner for Foreign Policy (next Mogherini), the President of Parliament (next Tajani) and the next Head of the European Central Bank (next Draghi). EU leaders already met on 28th May, during an extraordinary summit in Brussels to discuss the outcome of the vote as well as the distribution of the EU top jobs. They took stock of the results of the European elections and they kicked off the nomination process for the new head of EU institutions. They gave the mandate to European Council President, Donald Tusk, to start consultations with the Member States and the European Parliament. This will prepare the ground for decisions at the next European Council on 21st June.
The presence of Romanians in the European Parliament elections was 49.02%, respectively 8.954.959 of the total of 18.267.732 citizens registered on the permanent and special lists and 7,5 million (41,28%) for a referendum called by President Klaus Iohannis on two issues related to the judiciary system. For comparison, the turnout in 2014 was 32.17%, and in 2009, 27.67%.
On the 30th of May the results of the scrutiny were: PNL/the National Liberal Party: 27%; PSD/the Social-Democrat Party: 22.25%(for PSD, which since its founding did not score below 30%, the result of the elections was a real historical defeat); USR-PLUS/ the Alliance 2020 Save Romania Union (USR) -PLUS: 22.4%, PRO Romania: 6,6%, PMP: 5,7%, UDMR: 5,4%.
By their vote for both EP and Referendum, the Romanians gave their answer to the country they wanted to live in, and this image, even with the bitterness of the diaspora voting sections with people left out. In Romania, the May 26th vote is a massive vote for democracy and its fundamental principles and values: independent justice, anti-corruption, human rights.
The lowest vote was registered among young people aged 18-24, which is worrying from the perspective of civic involvement in the short and medium term. According to recent research, young people are disappointed, confused and do not trust the political class. The result of the vote should also be analysed in the light of the fact that the youth represented a priority for the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Unlike other EU Member States, in Romania, the voice of the Green Party – supposed to be one of the most relevant actors in terms of sustainable development – has not been heard. The Romanian Ecologist Party (PER) supported the Social Democrats in these European Parliament elections.
The themes of discussion during the election campaign were predominantly local, national; in Romania the vote is not given for a platform but for candidates and possible parties. That is why the discussion about the political guidelines in the European Parliament was totally absent. During the election campaign opposition parties adopted an anti-corruption message, reflecting rather national priorities and less European priorities. In part due to the association of European elections with the referendum on justice.
Due to the fact that there was no national debate on European issues, it can be said that the success of the major presence was in fact a toll on the current coalition in power from the electorate.
When we’re looking about the discussion before elections in Finland, it might have seemed that Finns were suffering from an “election exhaustion” after the national parliamentary elections, which were held just one month before the European Parliament elections. Luckily the voting turnout still raised from 39,1% to 42,7%.
Climate was one of the biggest topics in these elections. Fingo sent a poll for each EP candidate in April and the results were very pleasant from Fingo’s point of view. Sustainable development was widely supported over party lines. Clear majority of the candidates think that EU should develop a strategic plan for implementation of the Agenda 2030 as soon as possible.
The overall results in Finland were not very surprising. The number of Finnish MEPs in these elections is either 14 or 13, depending on whether the United Kingdom will still be a Member State when the new European Parliament’s term begins.
National Coalition Party (part of EPP) gathered most votes, 20,8 % of all votes. The second biggest party Greens (EGP) picked up an additional six percent of votes and will be sending two MEPs to Brussels. Third biggest party Social Democrats (SD) had the biggest personal vote magnet, Eero Heinäluoma. Overall SDP gained 14,6% of the votes and they held on to their two MEPs. The Finns Party (ECR) picked up an additional one percent of votes and held on to its two MEP seats.
The Centre Party (ALDE) was the biggest loser in this election and fell 6.1% to 13.5%, losing one of their MEPs. The Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party (ALDE) both kept their one seat at the Parliament. The average age of Finnish MEPs is 55 with not a single MEP under the age of 40 elected. One reason behind this might be the low turnout among the young people. Only 10 % of the people under 25 were using their right to vote. The new “Brexit MEP” can decrease the middle age of the Finnish MEPs. Alviina Alametsä (Green) will become an MEP for the first time, and se is also the youngest Finnish MEP at the age 26.
“We at Fingo are looking forward the co-operation with the new MEPs and we truly hope that they will be committed to work with themes like global justice and sustainable development”, says Fingo’s advocacy director Rilli Lappalainen.
Elections for the European Parliament in Croatia produced a surprising result as the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) which is a member of European People’s Party won only four (out of 12) seats despite expecting five. This represents a failure considering they won 6 seats in the previous election. Their former coalition partner Ruza Tomasic and her Croatian Conservative Party, members of European Conservatives and Reformists group, retained her one seat. HDZ’s result was matched by the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), part of the S&D alliance, which proclaimed their four seats as a victory. The remaining three seats were divided between Zivi Zid – a populist eurosceptic party; judge Mislav Kolakusic, an independent candidate best known for his anti graft activism and populist rhetoric and the Amsterdam Coalition – a wide alliance of smaller liberal, centrist and regional parties.
During the election campaign, the main topics of discussion were based on the dichotomy between European and national politics. HDZ tried to distance itself from its hardline nationalist past by presenting themselves as a pro-European force and as a guarantee of political stability. Their electoral list consisted mostly of inexperienced and lesser known, young politicians in order to try to distance themselves from their image as a corrupt, expended political force. This strategy has created a political vacuum amongst the more hardline right wing electorate which has historically been very strong in Croatia. The populist and anti-establishment parties such as Zivi Zid, as well as smaller nationalist parties exploited this strategy by portraying HDZ as being servile to Bruxelles and neglecting national politics, which caused a surge in support for these smaller right-wing parties. These factors, combined with numerous recent affairs of the ruling party, represented a development which follows the wider trends in European politics – weakening of established mainstream parties and strengthening of more extreme, populist, nationalist forces. On the left side of the political spectrum, SDP managed to mobilize a solid support by promoting experienced and well-respected candidates despite their internal power-struggles. The liberal Amsterdam coalition narrowly managed to gain enough support for one seat, proving once again that the centrist and liberal options in Croatia are weak, divided and fairly unpopular. There were several left-wing lists other than SDP present in the campaign, but due to their lack of infrastructure and wider recognition in the public, they did not mobilize significant levels of support.
Most notably, the Možemo coalition which comprises of three smaller leftist and green parties participated in the elections for the first time and gathered a following comprising of urban intellectuals, artists and activists. Although they had a positive and well-thought campaign their results showed that Croatia is still lagging behind the European trends regarding the strengthening of green parties and movements. The overall results of the election show that the Croatian political scene is following the trends in Europe of weakening established parties and emerging of new, non-mainstream options on both sides of the ideological spectrum. However, the Croatian electorate is asymmetrical in this regard – while the nationalist right wing voters recognized the opportunity for mobilization, the left wing and green voters still hold a significantly smaller support within the traditionalist Croatian population. In the future, we can expect further deterioration of support for HDZ and SDP as traditional heavyweights and increase of support for new, smaller parties on both sides of the spectrum.