OpenEurope has published a thoughtful flash analysis of the European elections. It is well worth reading (here).
The two key points:
- Share of anti-EU and anti-establishment vote is slightly higher than expected with such parties collectively on course to win 229 out of 751 seats in the new European Parliament (30.5%), up from 164 out of 766 seats in the current parliament (21.4%).
- European Parliament politics are set to become more unpredictable though the anti-EU and anti-establishment block remains incoherent and the two main groups will continue to dominate.
This latter is something that is often overshadowed in international reports on the rise of "populist" or "anti-European" forces in the old continent: they are hugely different, country to country and party to party. Sometimes their support is rooted in an emerging skepticism over European institutions and, particularly, what is called "democratic deficit" at the EU level: right or wrong (but mostly right), the EU is perceived as unaccountable to voters. But sometimes they do incarnate a revolt against member states' ruling classes (this is the case, to the best of my understanding, of Podemos in Spain or the Movimento Cinque Stelle in Italy).
To make a long story short: European elections are still national elections, in spite of the fact seats are to be gained in a distant "European Parliament" instead of in the Italian or the French one. This makes interpreting the EU vote more difficult.
Paradoxically, however, the "established" parties are not going to invest much energy to solve the puzzle.What Brian O'Neill writes here on Nigel Farage is up to a point true of other "euro-critic" political forces:
The real motor to the anti-Farage outlook, the fuel to this unprecedented fury of the elites, is a powerful feeling that he has connected with the public, or a significant section of it, in a way that mainstream politicians and observers have utterly failed to. The elites see in Farage their own inability to understand the populace or to speak to it in a language it understands. They see in his popularity - his oh-so-stubborn popularity, so notably undented by the daily furious outpourings of the anti-Farage elites - their own failure to swing public attitudes in what they consider to be the 'right' direction.
My sense is that this failure can't be reversed by insisting on more centralisation at the EU level. But I would bet that this would be path followed by the new Commission.