European elections: Power blocs lose grip on Parliament

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Brussels, May 27 (IANS) The big centre-right and centre-left blocs in the European Parliament have lost their combined majority amid an increase in support for liberals, the Greens and nationalists in Sundays European Parliamentary elections, the media reported on Monday.

The European Parliament helps shape the European Union (EU) legislation and the results will play a big part in who gets the key jobs in the European Commission, the Union’s executive, the BBC reported.

According to early exit polls, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) remained the largest bloc, and is expected to form a pro-European Union (EU) coalition.

Analysts have said that the EPP was likely to form a “grand coalition” with the Socialists and Democrats bloc, with support from liberals and the Greens.

The EPP was projected to win 179 seats, down from the 216 in 2014. The Socialists and Democrats looked set to drop to 150 seats from 191.

The Liberals and Greens also received big gains, while nationalists were set for victory in Italy and France.

There were major successes for the Greens, with exit polls suggesting the group would jump from 50 to around 67 MEPs.

Populists gained ground in some countries but fell short of the very significant gains some had predicted.

The turnout on Sunday bucked a long trend of decline in voter numbers, rising to just under 51 per cent of eligible voters across the 28 member states.

In the UK, the newly-formed Brexit Party claimed a big victory, and a strong performance by the Liberal Democrats came amid massive losses for the Conservatives and Labour.

Pro-EU parties are still expected to hold a majority of seats however, largely due to gains made by the liberal ALDE bloc, and particularly a decision taken by the party of French President Emmanuel Macron to join the group, the BBC said.

His Renaissance alliance was defeated by the far-right National Rally of Marine Le Pen.

In Germany, both major centrist parties suffered. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats dropped from 35 per cent of the vote in 2014 to 28 per cent, while the centre-left Social Democratic Union fell from 27 per cent to 15.5 per cent.

The right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) performed worse than expected – projected in exit polls to win 10.5 per cent – while still improving on its first results in 2014.

In Hungary, Viktor Orban, whose anti-immigration Fidesz party with 52 per cent of the vote and 13 of the country’s 21 seats, was also a big winner.

In Spain, the ruling Socialist party (PSOE) took a clear lead with 32.8 per cent of the vote and 20 seats, while the far-right Vox party won just 6.2 per cent and three seats – coming in fifth.

In Greece. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for an early election after the opposition conservative New Democracy party won 33.5 per cent of the votes to 20% for his Syriza party.

The European Parliament is the European Union’s law-making body.

It is made up of 751 members, called MEPs, who are directly elected by EU voters every five years. These MEPs – who sit in both Brussels and Strasbourg – represent the interests of citizens from the EU’s 28 member states.

–IANS

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