The polls drew a different Europe on 26 May, a European Union that will have to adapt to the new times. For the first time in history, the grand coalition between the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Social Democrats (PSE) is insufficient to obtain a majority.
This change in political representation that is being drawn in the European parliament through the decline in electoral support that traditional parties are receiving could be related to the weight that new issues such as European integration, immigration, climate change and globalization have recently taken on, usurping issues that have traditionally been at the heart of the European project.
The loss of 86 members of the popular and socialist parties has been balanced by the victories of the Greens and liberals, who have increased their representation by 62 seats. The sum of these four Europeanist forces reaches 504 seats, a figure sufficient to form a majority, albeit one with four rather than two voices.
The main cause of this fragmentation in the European parliament could yet become its existential crisis. People’s dissatisfaction with traditional parties combined with a willingness by populist movements that seek to end the European Community to exploit that dissatisfaction. The main problem facing the European Union is the most difficult kind to resolve: an internal one. The very success of European integration has bred a backlash by extremists and populists who desire to build walls both within and around Europe. Proposals such as building a wall on the southern border of the European Union, or the case of Brexit, point to a Union that is weak and aimless, both internally and externally.
The European Union has sufficient strength to define its own actions at both the regional and global level. The new political map in the European parliament gives the Europeanists the opportunity to stand firm, to update the Union by re-committing themselves to the values that motivate its inclusivity. Values such as freedom, human rights, democracy, equality, human dignity contained in the founding treaties of the union remain in force and necessary, but we must adapt to the new times.