European elections: Merkel's fumbling coalition shaken as Greens take root

Wednesday, 29 May, 2019

Turnout to the European Union parliamentary elections is historically low, and voters tend to use the five-year elections as a way to protest their national governments, much the way US voters use the midterm elections.

Here's what you need to know about the results. However, the drop in support for the main center-right and center-left blocs could complicate policymaking and require broader cross-party agreements and discipline, market analysts said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the outcome would further destabilize Merkel's national governing coalition, following long-running speculation that its end could be hastened by poor results Sunday.

Mr Batten, who was top of the party's list in London, is braced for UKIP to lose dozens of seats as tonight's results are declared.

For Austria, it was the first chance for voters to judge the breakup of the coalition of the center-right and far-right, after a mysterious sting operation forced the resignation of far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache and his colleagues.

Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage speaks as he and newly elected Members of the European Parliament from Brexit Party attend a news conference following the results of the European Parliament elections, in London, May 27, 2019. And the various nationalist parties' differences over issues like migration and attitudes toward Russian Federation could cloud prospects for a united right. And on economic policies, eurosceptics have widely differing views, with Salvini's calls for more flexibility on fiscal rules being met with coldness by his Austrian allies of the far-right FPO.

In France, Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party beat President Emmanuel Macron's in the latest challenge to a government embattled by street protests for months. Though Le Pen's party won by less than 1%, with 23% of the vote, she dubbed it a "victory for the people" on Twitter.

In Italy, the right-wing League Party headed by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini won 33.64 percent of the vote.

"The challenge is to create an alternative to Matteo Salvini who without doubt comes out of these elections as the true leader of a motionless and unsafe government", Democratic Party leader Nicola Zingaretti said.

This is nearly equivalent to the vote share of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats combined and reflects growing dissatisfaction with traditional United Kingdom parties.

In Germany, where turnout was also high, the Greens did very well, becoming the main party on the left, while the Social Democratic Party did very badly, according to exit polls. Most voters cast ballots on national issues, for national parties, which then gather into political groupings in the European Parliament.

Nationalists from eastern Europe have for long opposed Italy's calls to share asylum seekers among European Union states. Hungary's Orbán has pushed to close borders. "From now on, those who want to have a strong European Union have to join forces". Frans Timmermans of the Socialists and Democrats group, another of the traditional European powerhouses, said he wants to work together with other progressive parties to convince voters that Europe can benefit them a message deliberately opposed to populist and nationalist claims that the bloc is a cumbersome, meddlesome waste of money.

"As far as I'm concerned, if the League wins nothing changes in Italy, everything will change in Europe, starting from tomorrow", he added.

Although still trickling in, results show that the EPP is set to secure 179 seats, down from 217 five years ago.

In Germany, the Greens made major gains at the expense of country's left wing Social Democrats, making a historic breakthrough with more than 20 per cent of the vote.

"The Greens and the Liberals were the winners of the day", Sweden's Carl Bildt told NPR.

What's at stake in the European Union elections?

Many among the SPD's rank and file are fed up with serving as Merkel's allies, a thankless role the party has fulfilled in 10 of the last 14 years and which has left the chancellor to steal the limelight, especially on the global stage.

In contrast, Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party ended up in fifth place, with 8.7% of the vote.

Another lesson came with the collapse of the centre-right Les Républicains party, founded by Nicolas Sarkozy, which had its worst ever showing on 8.4%.

The anti-migrant and anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained ground taking 10.5 percent of the votes, an increase from its 7.1 percent in 2014.

"For the first time in 40 years, the two classical parties, socialists and conservatives, will no longer have a majority", said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the ALDE. Liberal Democrats and other pro-EU parties did well.

Green parties secured record gains across Europe's biggest countries - including 20 percent of the vote in Germany, almost double the Greens' support there during the last European elections in 2014.