European parliament elections were organised in all European Member States between the 22 and the 25 of May 2014. With 43.09%, the turnout was barely higher than in 2009 (43%). This however means that for the first time since 1979, the turnout numbers have not declined.
These elections were the first since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, which broadened significantly the legislative and budgetary powers of the EP granting it equal power as co-legislator in over 40 new fields within the Ordinary Legislative Procedure. In addition, the Lisbon Treaty introduced two new procedural and political changes. Firstly, the European Council is required to take the results of the EP’s election into account in it’s nomination for the candidate for Commission President. Secondly, the EP now holds the responsibility to elect the Council’s candidate for Commission President which must be done by an absolute majority.
Eurosceptic parties on the left and right made the most gains, doubling the number of their Members in the EP. The most important of these parties were the National Front of France, having won almost 25% of the vote and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) which won over 27% of the votes in Great Britain. The far left Syriza became the biggest party in Greece with 26% of the votes.
It should be noted that even with all of the highly divisive Eurosceptic national groups combined, the far right Eurosceptic vote is insufficient to block the legislative process of the European Parliament. It can be said that the scale of the Eurosceptic victory has been largely overplayed by an alarmist media.
The three traditionally largest European Groups, the European Peoples Party (EPP), the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), will still keep control of around 62 percent of the 751-seat EU legislature. The EPP remains the biggest party with 221 seats. The S&D holds 191 seats and ALDE 67. On most issues the EPP, S&D and ALDE could be incentivised to cooperate more closely with one another in order to advance the Parliaments’ work. This is especially true as regards matters pertaining to EU competence where they are likely to face a stronger Eurosceptic front.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) now represent the third biggest group -70 seats-, followed by ALDE, European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) -52- , the European Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) -50- and Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group (EFD) -48 seats.