Analysis

Ties between the United States and Greece are not at risk of weakening, regardless of the outcome of snap elections for the Greek parliament in July, Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Greece, said at the Atlantic Council on June 11.

“I am confident that whatever the choice of the Greek people, we are going to continue to make the kind of investment [that strengthened] this relationship and continue to move it forward in a way that reflects both of our interests,” Pyatt said.

After elections to the European Parliament from May 23 to 26 saw the two main political parties in Europe lose seats to smaller Euroskeptic and pro-integration parties, European leaders must now figure out how to navigate an increasingly fractured political landscape, while also capitalizing on renewed interest in the Union underscored by the highest voter turnout since 1994.

Despite predictions that Euroskeptic, populist, and far-right parties would potentially swamp more pro-European integration parties, the elections saw only a moderate increase in Euroskeptic representation, while the solidly pro-European Union Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens) both saw double-digit seat increases. Emiliano Alessandri, a nonresident senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the result “is a turning point… Those of us who believe in a strong and united Europe should feel relieved after this election.”

Europe’s two major parties suffered considerable losses to smaller parties—both Euroskeptic and pro-European integration—in elections to the European Parliament from May 23 to May 26.

While the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) remain the two largest parties in the European Parliament, both parties suffered double-digit seat losses, according to preliminary results. The big gainers of the night were the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which benefitted from the debut of French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party, and an array of far-right Euroskeptic parties who made gains throughout Europe.

This is a series of analyses produced by the Atlantic Council on the European parliamentary elections.

 

Unable to unite her Conservative Party around an acceptable deal to facilitate the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced on May 24 that she would be leaving her post.

While May maintained that she had done her best “to honor the result of the EU referendum,” she conceded “that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort.” The resignation goes into effect on June 7.

This article is part of a series on the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections.

In Greece, European parliamentary elections on May 26 are being viewed as a litmus test ahead of national elections later this year. Domestic politics have dominated the debate and the opposition has framed the election as a referendum against the government. The fact that European elections are to be held at the same time as local elections for mayors and regional governors has further obscured European issues.

At the national level, the campaign has been polarized by high political drama and unrelenting personal attacks. This culminated in a vote of confidence in parliament, which Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won on May 10. In anticipation of national elections in October 2019, Tsipras’ governing Syriza party is playing its last political cards. On May 7, the prime minister announced new measures to ease the austerity policies favored by Greece’s creditors.  Meanwhile, the main opposition party, New Democracy, which is ahead in the polls for both European and national elections, has been asking for early national elections, accusing Tsipras of pandering to voters.

This article is part of a series on the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections.

The European parliamentary elections in Poland, which are expected to draw a record turnout, will set the stage for national parliamentary elections in the fall. The election will be a vote of confidence in the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and reveal the level of public support for two competing visions for the future of Europe: an integrationist, open, and solidarity-driven Europe or a conservative “Christian” Europe of sovereign states.

The European parliamentary elections will take place in Poland on May 26. There are currently fifty-one seats reserved for Polish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), with candidates selected from thirteen electoral districts.

As is the case elsewhere on the European continent, parties away from the political center are expected to perform quite well in the European parliamentary elections in the Netherlands on May 23. With twenty-six seats in the European Parliament allocated to the Netherlands, polls in recent weeks have suggested that around five will be won by the far-right populist, Eurosceptic Forum voor Democratie (Forum for Democracy or FvD), a party that did not contend in the last European elections in 2014. This is not unusual. Fringe parties tend to perform better in European elections than in the national elections, as seen in the 2012 general elections and subsequent European elections in 2014. A similar cycle could take place this time, as the European elections follow the general elections of 2017.

In polls conducted in 2014 and 2018, 60 percent and 80 percent of Hungarians, respectively, said they consider themselves to be citizens of the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, Hungary had less than 30 percent voter turnout in the European parliamentary elections in 2014. In 2019, a year after Hungary’s center-right Fidesz party decisively won the national elections for the third consecutive time, there are two reasons why Hungarians should be more involved in the European elections on May 26: this election will determine the place of Hungary’s parties in the European political spectrum and the outcome will have consequences for Hungary’s municipal elections in the fall.

The Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) coalition currently enjoys the highest support (49 percent to 55 percent) and is projected to win thirteen to fifteen of Hungary’s twenty-one seats in the European Parliament. As for the opposition parties, internal disagreements and a lack of cohesion could depress turnout among their voters.

This article is part of a series on the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections.

Support for the European Union (EU) remains high in Sweden. Recent polls show that while 65 percent of Swedes support EU membership, only 19 percent would like Sweden to leave the Union. As a result of this strong public support, Sweden’s two most Eurosceptic parties, the Left Party (part of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left or GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament) and the Swedish Democrats (part of the European Conservatives and Reformists  or ECR group in the European Parliament), have abandoned their demand that Sweden ought to leave the EU, instead saying that they would work from inside the Union to shift it in their desired direction.



    

RELATED CONTENT