Donald Tusk says the European election results represent a “good omen for the EU and for our future as Europeans.”
He was speaking late on Tuesday at an informal summit of EU leaders after the 4-day elections concluded on Sunday with the highest turnout for 20 years, at just over 50 percent.
This compares with 42 per cent in the last elections five years ago which was an all-time low since the first elections in 1979.
The Council president said, “The vast majority voted for a more effective, stronger and united EU, while rejecting those who want a weak Europe. This is a powerful sign.”
“Europe is the winner in these elections. In fact, as people have become more pro-European, some major Eurosceptic parties have abandoned their anti-EU slogans and presented themselves as EU-reformers. This is a positive development.”
“The vast majority voted for a more effective, stronger and united EU, while rejecting those who want a weak Europe. This is a powerful sign” Donald Tusk, Council President
For the Council president, there is no doubt that Brexit was one of the main reasons why people on the continent voted for a pro-European majority. He said, “As Europeans see what Brexit means in practice, they also draw conclusions.”
His comments were echoed by others including Corina Stratulat, a senior policy analyst at leading think tank the European Policy Centre, who said the “expected Tsunami of support” for populists and nationalists “had failed to materialise” in the elections.
Her comments, at an EPC election briefing this week, come after the elections saw some significant gains for parties like the Brexit party and other populist parties in France, Hungary, Italy and Poland.
“The main story from these elections is the fragmentation of the parliament and the Green wave” Corina Stratulat, European Policy Centre
She said, “There was some support for the radicals and this was a reflection of the frustration felt by many voters. But the results are a mixed bag for the populists and the main story from these elections is the fragmentation of the parliament and the Green wave.”
Frank Schwalba-Hoth, a founding member of the German Greens and former MEP, welcomed the sweeping gains for the Greens, notably in Germany where the party finished second.
He told this website, “For me as co-founder of the German Green party and one of their first MPs and MEPs these elections open a new chapter.”
“In Germany, Belgium and other countries the Greens, fighting for a future based on sustainable development, mutual respect and multilateralism, were chosen mostly by the younger generation" Frank Schwalba-Hoth, founding member of German Greens
“While in some key EU countries, the key political forces of the left and the right of the second half of last century are shrinking (the two together in France 15%, UK 23%, Belgium 29%, Italy 31%, Germany 44%), new players take a growing lead.”
“In Germany, Belgium and other countries the Greens, fighting for a future based on sustainable development, mutual respect and multilateralism, were chosen mostly by the younger generation."
Elsewhere, EESC president Luca Jahier said, “The Greens are the real surprise, even though it was expected. They have gained 17 seats, increasing in number from their current 50 seats to 67 in the next parliament of 2019-2014.”
Jahier believes many young people voted green, especially in Germany where the strikes for the climate initiated by Greta Thunberg put the climate crisis at the centre of the electoral campaign.
“A coalition will now have to be negotiated, with at least three or possibly four political forces. But together they could really build a win-win programme for the future of Europe” EESC president, Luca Jahier
However, the EESC president was disappointed that the ‘Green wave’ failed to cross the Alps, into Italy, and in many southern and eastern European countries, where the ‘green’ dry spell continues. “In Italy, they didn’t even get passed the 4% threshold,” said Jahier.
On the other parties, Jahier said, “The Liberals have also been very successful. They become a decisive force, especially thanks to the French deputies of La République en Marche.”
“The centre-right and centre-left parties, the EPP and S&D, have held their ground, but the latter was only saved thanks to the Spanish and to the overwhelming enthusiasm in the Netherlands for Frans Timmermans.”
“A coalition will now have to be negotiated, with at least three or possibly four political forces. But together they could really build a win-win programme for the future of Europe.”