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Power blocs lose grip on European Parliament (2nd Lead)

Brussels, May 27 (IANS) The big centre-right and centre-left blocs in the European Parliament have lost their combined majority as voters turned out in record numbers to bolster radical alternatives, including the Greens and the far-right, in the European Parliamentary elections, according to media reports on Monday.

Pro-EU parties were still expected to be in a majority in the Sunday elections, but the traditional blocs would need to seek new alliances, the BBC reported.

The European Parliament helps shape the EU legislation. It’s made up of 751 members, called MEPs, directly elected by EU voters every five years. These MEPs represent the interests of citizens of the EU’s 28 member states.

The results will play a big part in who gets the key jobs in the EU institutions, including Jean-Claude Juncker’s replacement as the European Commission President.

The makeup of Parliament will be used by the 28 heads of state and government to guide their choice of replacement for Juncker and his counterpart in the European Council, Donald Tusk.

Parliament will have a veto over any choice of the commission President and on the whole of the new commission team.

The estimated results, based on exit polls, leave the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) as the largest in Parliament, but down from 221 seats to 179. Analysts say it’s likely to form a grand coalition with the Socialists and Democrats bloc, with support from the Liberals and the Greens.

The Socialists and the Democrats looked set to drop to 150 seats from 191. The Liberals and the Greens also received big gains, while the nationalists were set for victory in Italy and France.

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

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 the Labour.

The populists gained ground in some countries, but fell short of the 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 across the EU.

Pro-EU parties are still expected to hold a majority of seats however, largely due to gains made by the liberal alliance of the Liberals and Democrats 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. It’s projected in exit polls to win 10.5 per cent.

In Hungary, Viktor Orban, whose anti-immigration Fidesz party claimed 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 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 vote and three seats.

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



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