The EU Parliament will be much more fragmented over the next five years with the established centrist bloc failing to gain a majority at this week’s election, early results and projections show.
The initial results on Sunday evening suggested a strong showing for Liberal and Green parties, with euroskeptic groups in France and the U.K. holding the gains they saw in 2014. Italy’s anti-immigration Lega party was also expected to make large gains, according to exit polls.
It means that pro-EU parties will hold onto two-thirds of the seats at the EU Parliament, though nationalist opponents have also produced a solid result. The lack of a majority for the centrist bloc — the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialist and Democrats (S&D) which has held power in Brussels for several decades — could further complicate decision-making at the European Union.
This year’s vote was particularly relevant due to the surge of anti-EU and nationalist parties across the region. However, the pro-EU parties look to have largely held their ground in many countries and the euro rose slightly in early Asia trading Sunday.
“Defying the doomsayers once again, Europe continues to muddle through reasonably well. Judging by exit polls and first projections, the EU election will result in a more fragmented parliament with a slightly increased presence of euroskeptic right-wing parties,” he said.
However, he added that “the deeply divided right-wingers will remain far away from wielding any significant power at the European level. They will not be able to block significant decisions.”
Parties committed to strengthening the European Union held on to two-thirds of seats in the EU parliament, official projections from the bloc’s elections showed on Sunday, though far-right and nationalist opponents saw strong gains.
France’s Emmanuel Macron, who has staked his presidency on persuading Europeans that the EU is the answer to the challenges of an uncertain, globalising world economy, took a personal hit when his centrist movement was edged into second place by Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, anti-Brussels National Rally.
But Macron’s Renaissance, built on the ruins of centre-left and centre-right parties, added to gains for liberals at the EU level as turnout bounced sharply across the bloc. Along with a surge for the Greens, that meant four groups occupying the pro-EU middle ground lost under 20 seats, securing 505 seats out of 751, according to a projection by the European Parliament.
That may complicate some policymaking, as a two-party “grand coalition” of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists (S&D) no longer has a majority. The liberals, with over 100 seats and Greens, with nearly 70, want a big say.
But it also dents the hopes of Le Pen, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and others who have been seeking to disrupt attempts to forge closer EU integration. Salvini called the elections a mandate for a shake-up in Brussels.
But tensions among nationalists, who also include the Polish and Hungarian ruling parties and the new Brexit Party of British campaigner Nigel Farage, have limited their impact on policy.