The Brief – Macron, the Kingmaker

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Let’s be blunt about it. The winners in the new European Parliament are the Greens, with almost 20 more members, and especially the ALDE group, with some 40 extra MEPs, mostly thanks to the arrival of Macron’s Renaissance party. This is why this force is now called ALDE&R.

And the losers are the two political families that were the EU’s backbone: the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The EPP lost 35 MEPs, S&D lost 42, and they both lost the comfortable majority of over 400 MEPs they used to have.

By the way, the Eurosceptics and the anti-EU are not the winners. All of their groups together represent roughly the same number, far below the hoped-for one-third of the new Parliament.

When the EPP attempts to build a coalition, it is likely to fail. S&D could also be unsuccessful, and then Macron’s group is likely to be the kingmaker. And in the Council, it’s Macron anyway who rejects the Spitzenkandidaten system and is already consulting with leaders, ranging from Spain’s Sanchez to Bulgaria’s Borissov.

The S&D is pushing for a broad progressive coalition, but this cannot fly because the maths is not right. S&D+GUE/NGL+Greens/EFA+ALDE&R total 306 MEPs, short of the 376 needed for a majority.

The EPP could agree to a coalition with S&D and ALDE&R, less likely with the Greens/EFA and completely unlikely with GUE/NGL.

Some in S&D could find it extremely difficult to enter in a coalition with an EPP comprising Viktor Orban’s Fidesz.

ALDE&R are more likely to cobble a coalition, in an “out-of-the-box” style, and perhaps also attract forces such as the 5-Star Movement. Worth remembering, though, that a similar attempt to bring the Italian anti-system force closer to ALDE failed in 2017.

It may look weird that Macron, a loser at home to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, is the winner in Brussels. It’s also strange that in France, he is perceived as centre-right, but in Brussels he is centre-left. But we must get used to this type of politics, and forget old stereotypes.

The Roundup

By Alexandra Brzozowski

What a night it was! In case you slept through it, we don’t blame you – we stayed up late so you don’t have to: Read up here what you missed yesterday night in our liveblog!

For the post-election hangover, EURACTIV looks at the winners and losers of the European elections.

The EPP once again won the most seats in the European Parliament after EU elections but will face difficulties building a controlling majority as the Greens, the Liberals and the far-right posted big gains, reflecting growing political polarisation in the 28-country bloc.

The ‘Green Wave’ and the rise of the Liberals have transformed the shape of the European Parliament, now it’s coalition time!

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras announced snap elections, most probably due on 30 June, following massive defeats by the conservative opposition in EU and local elections.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s party failed to defeat Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National.

German Greens are the big winners of the European elections in Germany as they nearly doubled their vote to finish second at 21%, ahead of the Social Democrats, neck-to-neck behind the Conservatives.

Extreme-right Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang gained big in Belgium’s triple elections, complicating efforts to form the next federal government as French-speaking Walloons voted for radically opposite parties on the left of the political spectrum.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party won the EU polls and now braces itself for the ‘decisive battle’ in autumn.

After just one year in government, the balance of power between Italy’s two ruling parties has been turned around.

The UK’s divisions over Brexit were spelt out in technicolor in the European elections, as Nigel Farage’s Brexit party comfortably topped the poll, and pro-Remain parties also made large gains.

Wales’ remain-supporting parties outstripped their Brexit-backing counterparts, prompting the leader of the principality’s nationalist party to declare it a “Remain nation”.

Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez’s sound victory in the EU elections confirmed the momentum of his party in Spain and positioned him as the leader of the European Socialists, as he seeks to grab an influential EU top job for Madrid.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s GERB party (EPP-affiliated) won despite a number of scandals in which it was involved in recent months.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was having a good day after gains in the elections, that is until he was ousted from government by a no confidence vote earlier.

Look out for…

As the race for the EU top jobs heats up, EU27 leaders gathering for dinner in Brussels tomorrow to prepare for what is likely to be a protracted period of negotiating a majority in the fragmented new European Parliament.

Today, Spain’s Pedro Sánchez will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and is expected to lobby for several socialist and social-democrat candidates for EU top jobs, as member states and political groups start jockeying for position.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

Subscribe to our newsletters