European Elections See Partisans Gain Seats and Centrists Lose


The European Union held parliamentary elections this weekend and partisan groups – both on the right and left – made big gains. Suffering losses were centrist parties who now hold the least power in about 40 years.

Europe has spent that last 4 days voting for representatives in the European Parliament, the lawmaking arm of the European Union. The body has 751 members and who run for elections every 5 years.

Some 400 million people voted across 28 EU nations this weekend. Turnout was high – about 51% – a cause for celebration as turnout had been declining for 40 years. Turnout in 2014 was 43%.

This year’s elections were of keen interest because of the recent rise in Europe’s far right parties.

Parties running on platforms of strong nationalist and anti-globalist sentiment have enjoyed increased public support in recently. That sentiment is largely believed to have fueled the vote by England to leave the European union in 2016, known as Brexit. Some watchers were worried as some of the parties incorporated neo-Nazi views.

Those far-right populist parties’ performances weren’t as strong as was predicted. They basically held levels of power attained in 2014.

Heavily liberal parties, like the Green Party which ran on a platform that includes environmental responsibility, diversity, inclusion and gender equality, also saw a surge in seats in parliament.

One of the body’s main functions is debating and voting on laws proposed by the European Commission. It also elects the president of the European Commission and approves the EU’s budget. It’s members, referred to as MEP’s, sit in both Brussels, Belgium, and Strasbourg, France.

Photo by Marco Verch via Flickr