June 25, 2019
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EPP wins poll amid rise of Greens, Liberal Democrats, some far-right parties

Laura Perez-Cejuela and Laura Zornoza

Brussels, May 27 (efe-epa).- The center-right European People’s Party and center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats won the largest share of the votes in Sunday’s European parliamentary elections but have lost their combined majority after a surge for the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and some far-right parties.

Turnout across the European Union was 50.5 percent, the highest in 20 years. Just 42.6 percent turned out in the previous elections in 2014.

Provisional results show that the EPP has won the largest number of seats with 179, or 22 percent of the vote, down from the 221 seats the group won in 2014.

S&D also suffered similar losses compared to four years ago but will remain the second largest in parliament after taking 150 seats (20 percent), while the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) secured 107, or 14.2 percent, an improvement of 40 seats.

The Greens/European Free Alliance were the fourth largest group with 70 seats (9.3 percent), 15 more than in 2014, thanks to strong results in Finland, Germany, France and Portugal.

The result means that the EPP and S&D will not be able to form a “grand coalition”, having failed to reach the minimum of 376 seats.

The two major parties will need to form alliances with the ALDE or the Greens/EFA to have parliamentary majorities.

The rise of liberal and green parties suggest that the populist and nationalist surge demonstrated in recent national European elections appears to have stalled.

Although they have won in Italy, France and Hungary, right-wing, nationalist leaders did not fare as well as expected.

Instead, pro-EU Green and liberal parties have gained significant ground, although European politics are likely to become even more fragmented in the wake of Sunday's vote.

An exception to that trend is the strong showing from the British Brexit Party, led by prominent eurosceptic and leading campaigner in favor of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, Nigel Farage.

The newly-formed party gained 28 seats amid huge losses for the British Conservative and Labour Parties.

The far-right Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group will increase its representatives in the EP from 48 to 56 seats, a victory for France's Marine Le Pen, along with parties like Italy's Northern League, Austria's FPÖ, the Netherlands' PVV and Belgium's Vlaams Belang.

The European Conservatives and Reformists, of which the Tory party under outgoing prime minister Theresa May are a member, won 58 seats (7.7 percent), a loss of 12.

Elections for the EP, the world's second-largest democratic legislature after India's, were held in the 28 EU countries from Thursday through Sunday.

More than 400 million people were eligible to vote.

A total of 751 members are elected to the European Parliament, which has been directly elected since 1979.

National governments have the final say on all important matters in the EU, but the legislature can influence rules on issues ranging from security to mobile phone-roaming and can strike down the bloc's trade deals or appointees for the bloc's top jobs.

The new balance of power will also need to be reflected in the appointment of several top EU officials, including the president of the European Central Bank. That selection process will begin Tuesday when EU leaders meet in Brussels for a special summit.

lpc-lzu/ks

Related content

Brexit Party wins big as Tories, Labour suffer heavy losses

London, May 27 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom appears to be headed for a so-called “hard brexit” after a big win for the anti-European Union Brexit Party, led by prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage, in Sunday’s European parliamentary elections.

The polls saw the major centrist party suffer losses as the Greens, Liberals and some eurosceptic far-right groups, including Farage’s Brexit Party, saw big gains.

Provisional results show that the Brexit Party, founded at the start of the year by the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), was the clear winner among British groups in the EP with 29 seats, or 31.71 percent, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats came in second.

The Conservative and Labour Parties suffered heavy losses, with the Tory party in particular faring poorly with under 10 percent of the vote.

In a referendum in 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU, with a deadline for its withdrawal set for Mar. 29.

But when that deadline was extended to Oct. 31 after the British parliament failed to agree a deal on the terms of its departure, the country was forced to participate in the European elections.

Although the final results will not be published until Monday or Tuesday once the votes are counted in Northern Ireland, the message from British voters is clearly one in favor of Brexit, with Farage's party winning in every region in England except for London, as well as dominating in Wales.

“Never before in British politics has a party launched just six weeks topped the polls in a national election”, Farage said on Sunday night. “If we don’t leave on Oct. 31, then the scores you have seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election”.

“History has been made. This is just the beginning”, he added in a post on Twitter.

In a statement, Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the results showed that the decision on whether to go ahead with Brexit would "have to go back to the people, whether through a general election or a public vote."

The results are extremely damaging for the ruling Conservative and Unionist Party, which won just 8.7 percent; the party looks set for its worst election performance since it was founded in the early 1830s.

Much of the Conservatives’ support appears to have shifted to the Brexit Party over widespread disillusionment over the Conservative party’s failure to deliver Brexit.

Conservative Party chairman, Brandon Lewis, said “We knew this would be a difficult night for Conservatives - people want us to deliver Brexit as quickly as possible. We must”.

The results show that the country has become polarised between those who favor Brexit and those who favor remaining in the bloc.

The pro-EU Liberal Democratic Party, which has called for a second Brexit referendum, came in second place, with 16 MEPs or 18.55 percent, far behind Farage’s party.

More than 40 million people were called to the polls in the UK on Thursday, with turnout reaching 37 percent, two points higher than in 2014.

The European elections came just days after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would resign on Jun. 7 after three years of political deadlock which saw her fail to get her party’s or parliament’s support for her Brexit withdrawal deal which she had agreed with EU leaders.

vg/ht/ks

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