Election 2014 Insight The European Parliament Elections – What next?
Wes Himes, Managing Partner, Brussels ….
The voters have spoken again. The result is a real win for those parties which question the phrase “ever closer union”. Coming first in Member States like France, United Kingdom, Denmark and Austria the EU project has suddenly hit the reality of voter opinion on the streets.
Boiling it all down, the engine remains the same, albeit in smaller form. The core pro-EU group of EPP, S&D and ALDE retain their majority in the EP, but have less room for manoeuvre with dwindling numbers. Therefore business should continue as usual but the traditional political parties will have to hug the middle of the road more often as S&D and EPP have to work together. This will create an even more stark division of policy between the core and the left and rights of the EPP, S&D and ALDE. However, this election serves as the beginning of a change in shape of the EU. The long unstated direction of travel will now be challenged.
First, many of the Prime Minister’s will now be looking at this election in terms of domestic politics. David Cameron, François Holland, Antonis Samaras, among others will now have to consider their next steps. This will play nicely into David Cameron’s hands on opening up the Treaty to revision, in light of the possible referendum in 2017 (provided he wins an election in 2015).
Now the next battle shapes up – the election of the Commission President. Expect a tumultuous few weeks as political parties reach out to one another on the candidate and their demands for their parties support. This will be shadowed by the machinations of the European Council who prefer to keep their powder dry – i.e. gives themselves the freedom to put forward their own
- There are 63 unaffiliated MEPs who by Tuesday may have found a home with the existing parties or who will remain unaligned. The largest segment of this group is Beppi Grillo’s Five Star movement in Italy who took 2nd place behind Renzi’s PDs. They have 20 MEPs.
- Voting majorities are becoming stark for the main leading parties – S&D and the EPP. Neither wants to look right or left for votes so may find themselves in a reluctant grand coalition – bringing their 400 or so odd votes to the table. This does not leave much room for error. Much will depend on how the other smaller and more sceptic parties will assemble.
- The scramble is on for leadership posts in the respective parties. Most likely the largest political parties in each European political Group will take hold of the Presidency post. Will that be David McAllister of the CDU for the EPP? An Italian PD winner for S&D? Law and Justice candidate for ECR?
When it comes to committees they mainly reflect the political composition of the full Parliament. However, with the numbers in committee being much smaller, the gap between the parties can be quite small. Take a hypothetical 50 MEP committee. The EPP would command 14 MEPs, S&D 12-13 MEPs. This is a slim majority of 1-2 MEPs in committee.
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