This year, from May 23rd until May 26th elections for the European Parliament were held in all 28 EU member states. Interestingly, the elections are held every five years since 1979. The European Parliament is the only institution of the EU that is directly elected by EU citizens. Together with the European Commission and the European Council, it exercises the legislative function of the European Union. It is currently composed of 751 members (MEPs). While the European Commission proposes laws, the MEP’s has the right to suggest amendments to the laws.
The composition of the 8th European Parliament (2014.-2019.) consisted of the following groups: European People’s Party (EPP), Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL), Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA), Europe for Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), Non-Inscrits (NI).
Illustration 1 depicts the composition of the 8th European Parliament. The upcoming composition will have similar groupings, except that there will most likely be a change in the name and the number of MEP’s within the groups.
Illustration 2 shows the provisional results for the 2019 elections. Analyzing the results, we can say that the centre-eft S&D and the centre-right EPP have won most seats. However, comparing it to the previous elections, they have lost considerable number of seats, losing the previously held absolute majority. EPP won 23,83%, while S&D won 20,37%. The biggest surprise after the elections were ALDE and the Greens. Furthermore, the number of populist radical right (far-right) MEP’s increased significantly. The new right wing populist group will be called European Alliance of People and Nations. It will be undoubtedly bigger than the previous Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF). The biggest party in the groups won’t be French National Rally, but Matteo Salvini’s League from Italy. The Brexit Party has gained a relative majority of seats in the UK. Since Brexit, populist parties in the EU have changed their position, from advocating to leaving the EU to proposing fundamental change in the EU.
Voter Turnout throughout the Years 1979-2019
The voter turnout has steadily been decreasing since the first elections in 1979 when the turnout was 62 %. Interestingly, the voter turnout has increased from historic low from 42% in 2014 to 50,5 % in 2019. It is safe to say how campaigns, especially #ThisTimeI’mVoting through social media has played a major role in mobilizing young people, including important topics such as employment, mobilizing students across Europe for university studies and so on.
Illustration 3: Voter tunout throughout the years 1979-2019 Source: https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/26/european-parliament-elections-in-key-charts
The president of the European Comission is nominated by the national leaders and then elected by the European Parliament by the majority vote. Each party group has its candidates (spitezenkandidate) for the president of the European Comission. Manfred Weber is the EPP’s candidate for the president and it was believed how he would become president of the European Comission. However, S&D and EPP have not won the majority of seats during the elections, therefore it isn’t certain whether he would become president of the European Comission. Because of that, Liberals (ALDE) and the Greens will also participate in electing the new president of the European Comission.
Looking at Croatia’s role and structure in the European Parliament, there are 11 seats reserved for MEP’s from Croatia. After the UK leaves the Europeans Union, the overall numbers of MEP’s in EP will decrease from 751 to 705 and the numbers of MEPS’s from Croatia will increase from 11 to 12. Concerning this year’s results, Christian Democrats (HDZ) won four seats, as well as the Social Democrats (SDP), while the the Sovereignist Party, the independent list of Mislav Kolakušić, Human Shield (Živi zid) and Amsterdam Coalition won one seat each. The biggest loser of the election were Christian Democrats (HDZ) and the Bridge of Independent List (Most), where HDZ expected to gain 5 or even 6 seats, yet it ultimately won 4 seats. It is vital to highlight that HDZ belongs to the EPP group, while SDP belongs to the S&D group. On the other hand, Most, which is an anti-establishment reformist party did not gain any seat, yet it expected to gain one seat. The Human Shield a populist party, which is most similar to the Italian Five Star Movement Party (5SM), is a complicated party to pin point, since it started as a left populist party, which was mostly concerned with social economic issues, such as the problem of family evictions from their homes. Recently, it has expressed agressively anti-immigrant views and eurosceptic views.
Ruža Tomašić, the leader of the sovereignist party coalition, has once again gained a seat in the parliament. She is a radical conservative MEP belonging to the ECR. Recently in the media, it was revealed how she hold revisionist fascists pasts, supporting the Ustasha movement which was active from 1941-1945. Lastly, Mislav Kolakušić has presented himself as an anti-establishment candidate, in which he has discussed issues on corruption in Croatia. Therefore, he most likely won the protest votes from parts of Most and Human Shields electorate. In the past few days, he expressed uncommon views by saying how he would like to become the president and the prime minister of Croatia simultaneously, while also hinting how he would like to control some minister positions.
Surprisingly, the voter turnout in Croatia has increased from 25,24% in 2014 to 29,86 % in 2019.