10 observations on the results of the 2014 European elections

28/05/2014

1. The 2014 European Parliament elections were historically important.

2. The hope had been that voter participation would increase and that right-wing populists would be held at bay in most countries.

3. Even if the turnout wasn’t as high as it could have been, this election has still made Europe more democratic. The leading candidates have set important precedents that will be hard to change.

4. Despite a rise in anti-European parties, political balances remained broadly unchanged in the European Parliament.The populists will not play a major role in the new European Parliament. Nevertheless they will pose a challenge on their different national levels.

5. However, the two mainstream parties reached more or less only one third of the overall votes. On the left and especially on the right new forces have emerged in some countries, even as the strongest party as in the case of the FN in France.

6. The big missing point of the campaign on both sides was an overall European topic on which to campaign. For example the TTIP, the problem of youth unemployment …

7. The UK as a special case. Most notably, the discourse leading up to the European elections did not get past the first hurdle of Britain’s relationship with Europe, let alone a further debate on important policy issues.

8. Italy as a special case. Matteo Renzi’s Partito Democratico got the highest ever result for a left-wing party in the country’s history, exceeding all expectations.

9. The EU Council appears to have already failed to accept the new role of the Parliament when electing the new Commission president.

10. The next step towards a new European democracy should be to change the current Euro party system. The Europarties should from now on offer to their activists the opportunity to become formal members of their respective parties.

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