The political groups in the European Parliament have given their first round of reactions to the preliminary results of the European elections.
Kicking off at 9pm CET on Sunday night, the press conference featured the initial feedback from most of the group presidents, who gave a mixed bag of reactions.
Greens co-leader Ska Keller was visibly triumphant as she took to the stage, saying “As Greens we are very happy with the results … The ‘green wave’ has really spread over Europe.”
The Greens are projected to take 69 seats in the new Parliament, up from 50 seats in 2014.
Keller’s co-leader Philippe Lamberts said, “A year ago some thought that we might not even survive. When citizens have a choice they opt for the original option, not copycats.”
“If we give leverage and support we can lift the world … The Greens are going to be indispensable,” he added.
GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said it was important to listen to the voice of young people with regard to climate change.
“As Greens we are very happy with the results … The ‘green wave’ has really spread over Europe” Greens co-leader Ska Keller
“This is a clear statement [the rise of the Greens] and it is important to acknowledge that sign and recognise that we need clear measures against a climate disaster.”
Referring to Marine Le Pen edging past French President Emmanuel Macron in the French exit polls, Zimmer said “Le Pen will probably get the highest number of votes in her country,” adding, “What we need is a broad alliance against nationalists and the extreme right.”
His usual effervescent self, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt feted what he called the best voter turnout since 1994.
“For the first time in 25 years we have a turnout that is increasing more than 50 percent. Europe is back! This is the first big news of the elections.”
As far as the potential new-look ALDE&R group is concerned, Verhofstadt said that the first projections looked “promising” adding that they will form a new group with around 107 seats.
He said that this new group will be crucial, as for the first time in forty years the leading two parties – the socialists and the conservatives – will not have enough seats to form a form a ruling coalition.
“For the first time in 25 years we have a turnout that is increasing more than 50 percent. Europe is back! This is the first big news of the elections" ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt
“We are the pro-European group that has won this election,” he said, adding, “This is historic; there is a new balance of power in the European Parliament.”
The EPP’s Esther de Lange was not convinced of this, arguing, “It looks like the EPP has a very good chance of being the biggest group in Parliament.”
With an estimated 182 seats, the centre-right grouping is still Parliament's largest, but the loss of 34 seats was a punishing and potentially game-changing blow to the EPP, Parliament's traditional power balance and to Manfred Weber's hopes of becoming European Commission President.
The S&D group leader Udo Bullmann began enthusiastically, saying, “We have an exciting development – the people have spoken and their message is clear. They want us to deliver and do something decisive against climate change and improve social justice.”
“We cannot deliver on climate change without delivering on social justice.”
Closing his speech, Bullmann said that Frans Timmermans, the S&D’s Spitzenkandidat, had a “very good chance” of becoming European Commission President, adding, “the gap between the camps is closing.”