Europeans vote for representatives in transcontinental legislative body

Citizens of the European Union voted for representatives in the organization between May 23-26, 2019

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Citizens of the European Union voted for representatives in the organization between May 23-26, 2019

Daniel Shevchenko, Student Writer

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The rush of Voting Day is well-known, much anticipated, and much enjoyed in the United States and in foremaintain a majority ign entities alike. The ever-familiar excitement and curiosity of casting a ballot and waiting for seemingly endless hours—or, in some jurisdictions, even days—to acquire the results of the election in question is much comparable to rooting for a team in a high-stakes sporting event, with the winner of the tournament gaining immense power and the potential for great change in the future of a city, state, or country. For some persons aged over 18, the first Tuesday of November is an occasion warranting extraordinary celebration; for others, it is nothing more than a normal day with an additional stroll to the ballot box. The more politically invested and interested, however, may be disappointed to know that uniform elections across the United States only occur once every two years, and may thus resort to spectating such processes in areas around the world. It is these connoisseurs of polls and arguments to whom the recent election to the European Parliament—the second-largest systematic democratic exercise in the world and possibly the most consequential such occurrence of 2019—may be of interest, and for whom The GNA Insider‘s analysis of its results may prove to be an enticing and enjoyable bundle of opinions and statistics.

The European Parliament serves as the main legislative body of the European Union—a transcontinental political and economical organization consisting of 28* European nations—voting on laws proposed by executive officials of the bloc and on international treaties negotiated with the union. Consisting of 750 members and a non-voting president, the European Parliament is the sole directly elected authority in the organization (members of other legal bodies are chosen primarily by heads of

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The hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, where the assembly meets and partakes in day-to-day proceedings

state of the individual member nations of EU and approved by the parliament); elections to it, occurring once every five years, are thus the primary and most importantway of expressing citizens’ opinions on the direction of the bloc, as the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can regulate policy and budgetary agreements to a degree significant enough to bring down the entire organization, should they collectively choose so. Taking this into account, and in light of a recently rising trend of far-right movements across Europe (most notably in Italy, where the right-wing League party has, over the course of little more than a year, risen from obscurity to play a profound role in national politics), there had been widespread pre-election fears that the anti-establishment conservative parties would obtain parliamentary representation significant enough to obstruct important legislation and dismantle the European Union from inside-out.

The elections themselves took place over the course of four days, beginning on May 23 and lasting to May 26. Balloting was open in each participating nation on a separate agenda; thus, in spite of the majority of the European Union voting on May 26, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and several other countries began collecting votes several days prior. The elections themselves were based on a proportional voting system, whereby constituents indicated the national political parties which they believe should be most prevalent in the European Parliament and the seats in the assembly are divided proportionally to the percentage of the total vote share each party obtains. The representatives of the chosen parties then further divide themselves into pan-European groups, creating a systematic manner of organizing MEPs by their political beliefs and allowing them to disenfranchise quarrels and negotiations of their parties at the national level from arguments and affiliations at the level of the European Union as a whole. These nine main parliamentary groups consist of:

  • European People’s Party (EPP), consisting primarily of center-right politicians with Christian-democratic ideologies
  • Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), comprised of center-left politicians with beliefs rooted in social and/or economic liberalism
  • Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), composed of centrist politicians with more or less socially liberal policies
  • European Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA); the policies of this alliance are typically based around social liberalism and green politics, promoting climate action to a great degree
  • European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL); most parties in this group orient themselves around far-left beliefs, in some cases endorsing Marxist-Leninist ideologies
  • European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR), consisting of right-wing, socially conservative politicians, with a large portion of the group typically representing the majority of the Polish delegation
  • Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), whose members endorse nationalistic tendencies and typically lean towards far-right conservatism
  • Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD); ideologically similar to the ENF group and composed primarily of right-wing populists
  • Non-Inscrits (NI), made up of MEPs not belonging to the other eight groupings

Of the affiliations enumerated above, the EPP, S&D, ALDE, and Greens/EFA parties and their members typically take a mostly pro-EU stance, defending the European Union and seeking to further integrate their nations into the trans-continental project. The GUE/NGL and ECR groups are primarily advocates of changing the EU from within while maintaining membership of their nations in the bloc, whereas the EFDD and ENF coalitions are almost exclusively composed of members highly critical of the European project, with some openly pushing for the exit of their nations from the bloc. The Non-Inscrits do not have a single defined stance on the union, although many tend to profess right-wing and anti-EU beliefs.

It is the latter four groups which were near-universally expected to grow immensely during the 2019 elections, owing to the aforementioned tide of far-right parties gaining prominence in European nations; however, in spite of the right-wing affiliations’ admittedly tangible increase in seats in the European Parliament, these gains were significantly smaller than predicted and, when countered by an unprecedented increase in the affluence of green parties throughout the EU, amount to only a modest absolute gain of influence in the legislative body. The election results, as of June 12, 2019, are as follows:

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Results of the 2019 European Parliament election, as of June 12, 2019

  • EPP wins 179 seats, losing 37 positions when compared to the 2014 European Parliament elections
  • S&D wins 153 seats, shrinking by 32 members
  • ALDE wins 106 seats, making a gain of 37 members
  • Greens/EFA wins 75 seats, marking a 23-seat improvement over 2014 election results
  • GUE/NGL obtains 38 seats, shrinking by 14 members
  • ECR loses 13 seats for a total member count of 64
  • ENF gains 22 seats, attaining a size of 58 members
  • EFDD wins 54 seats, increasing its size by 12 positions over its 2014 prominence (or, more accurately, relative lack thereof)

Altogether, pro-EU parties (GUE/NGL and ECR excluded) possess a comfortable 513-seat chunk of the 751-seat assembly and succumb to an overall decrease of only 9 seats—an impact significantly smaller than those predicted by pollsters in the weeks leading up to the election. At a glance, the performance of the far-right and other rising parties does not seem to be immense; however, the significance of the elections lies in the shrinking of the traditional largest groupings within the European Parliament—the EPP and S&D coalitions. For decades, these two parties have, notwithstanding their distance on the political spectrum, maintained a tight grasp on a majority in the European Parliament; the 2019 election thus represents the first time in years that a third party will be necessary to form a coalition in the European Parliament, demonstrating a clear call for diversification of the political landscape from constituents.

While this democratic process does not show an enormous deviation from the standard, pro-European opinion of the bloc’s citizens, it is necessary to note that fringe politics on both sides of the ideological spectrum are presently surging, with far-right leaders displaying especially strong influence across the continent and the world as a whole. In some cases, these increases of conservatism stem from legitimate dissatisfaction with the established governments of the world; in many others, however, misinformation and sensationalization of various political matters are the core causes of such swings of belief. Regardless of the individual affiliations of readers, The GNA Insider maintains the position that polarization in government is counter-productive, and recommends that readers partake in thorough and extensive research on issues which concern their jurisdictions prior to establishing a stance on the problems at hand.

 

*The United Kingdom intends to leave the European Union by October 31, 2019.