From green wave to black tide

The European People's Party is projected to remain the largest party but liberals and greens could be kingmakers as Eurosceptic populist parties win in France, Italy, Hungary, Poland and the UK but fail to surge elsewhere

Far-right conservative Marine Le Pen's movement takes victory in MEP elections
Far-right conservative Marine Le Pen's movement takes victory in MEP elections

Greta Thunberg’s climate strike movement has triggered a green wave in a number of European countries, with Malta being a notable exception.

This could make the Greens, along with the liberals, king makers in the new parliament where both Socialists and Christian democrats have declined their seats and do not command a majority together.

In Germany, the largest and most represented country in the European parliament, the left-leaning Greens have overtaken the Social Democrats to emerge as the second largest after Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party.

Riding high on a green wave triggered by mounting concern on climate change, the German Greens are projected to win 22 seats, six less than the Christian Democrats and seven more than the Social Democrats. The right wing populist AFD has failed to make further inroads winning less than 11% of the vote and 10 seats.

But the far right has won its most important appointment with Marine Le Pen overtaking French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist movement in what could be a set back in his attempt to project himself as the leader of a new centre-left alliance between the Socialists and the Liberals.

European Parliament projection 2019 - 2024
European Parliament projection 2019 - 2024

Matteo Salvini’s Lega has also emerged as Italy’s largest party. In Ireland Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael a member of the EPP under whose watch his country has liberalised abortion laws, is expected to be confirmed as the largest party with 29% of the vote. The Irish Greens are expected to treble their votes to win 15% and 3 of the country’s 10 seats. The green wave also left ripples in Finland (16%), France where the Greens have emerged as the third party with 13% of the vote and Denmark (13%) and Austria (13%).

For the first time ever, the Greens have won a seat from Portugal.

In Hungary Orban’s Fidesz party which was recently suspended from the EPP and may join a new right wing alliance spearheaded by Italy’s Vice Premier Matteo Salvini has resoundingly won by 56% easily defeating a fragmented opposition. The conservative right wing also won in Poland, another country singled out for rule of law issues which triggered Article 7 procedures.

As expected in Greece the conservative New Democracy party has overtaken Alexis Tsipras’ leftist SYRIZA which was elected to government on a platform to reject austerity but ended up implementing the EU imposed debt repayment programmes.

In Britain Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has overtaken all the other parties with 30% of the vote. But the pro-remain Liberal Democrats and the Greens have also increased their seats.

The Socialists have registered significant gains in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. In Spain the Socialists led by Pedro Sanchez have increased their share of the vote by 5 points while the Popular Party has lost 9 points.