A detailed look at the European parliamentary election results (part 2)

 Across Europe on Monday, officials, voters and everyone else were trying to sort through the consequences of yesterday’s voting, across all 28 member-states, to elect the 751 members of the European Parliament.European_Union

Late Sunday, I began analyzing the results on a state-by-state basis — you can read my take here on what the European election results mean in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

This post picks up where that left off, however, with a look at some of the results in Europe’s mid-sized member-states.

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RELATED: A detailed look at the European parliamentary election results (part 1)

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With the count now almost complete, here’s where the Europe-wide parties stand:


The European People’s Party (EPP), which has been the largest group in the European Parliament since 1999, will continue to be the largest group, but with fewer seats (215) than after any election since 1994.

The second-largest group, the Party of European Socialists (PES) has 188 seats, a slight gain, but not the breakout performance for which it was hoping.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe (ALDE) will remain the third-largest group, notwithstanding the collapse of two of its constituent parties, the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom and the Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP, Free Democratic Party) in Germany.

The European Greens have won 53 seats, just two less than before the elections. The Party of the European Left, which had hoped to make strong gains on the strength of its anti-austerity message, gained nine seats to 44.

The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), a slightly eurosceptic group of conservative parties, including the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, holds steady at 46 seats — that’s a slight loss of around eight seats. The Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (MELD) gained six.

The real increase was among the ‘non-inscrits,’ the unaffiliated MEPs, which will rise from around 30 to 104. The bulk of those MEPs include the newly elected eurosceptics that have made such a big splash in the past 24 hours, including Marine Le Pen’s Front national (FN, National Front) in France.

But, in addition to being a pan-European contest with wide-ranging themes that resonate throughout the European Union, the elections are also 28 national contests, and they’ve already claimed resignations of two center-left leaders — Eamon Gilmore, of Ireland’s Labour Party, and Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE, Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party).

Here’s a look at how the European elections are affecting nine more mid-sized counties across the European Union: Poland, Romania, The Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary and Sweden.

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: 51 seats
Population: 38.5 million
Joined EEC/EU: 2004
Head of government: Donald Tusk, PO
Next national election: Before October 2015
Currency: złoty
GDP per capita (PPP): $20,592


As in Spain, the governmePoland_Flag_Iconnt won the greatest share of seats (together with its allies), but the conservative  Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS), led by former prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński narrowly won the greatest share of the vote. So the results are cold comfort for prime minister Donald Tusk, whose Platforma Obywatelska (PO, Civic Platform) has been in power since 2007 and will face tough elections next year.

Tusk, who leads a traditional center-right government, has presided over relatively strong growth (by EU standards), Poland’s rise as one of the engines of the European economy, and the emergence of what many believe will, in the years to come, a new German-Polish-French axis that provides Europe’s strategic vision.

One of the biggest issues facing Poland in the coming years is whether it will hold a referendum on accession to the eurozone. Though Poland is technically committed to joining the single currency pursuant to the terms of its accession to the European Union in 2004, there’s some doubt about Polish appetite for exchanging the złoty for the euro in the wake of the financial crises of the past five years.

A new hard-right eurosceptic party, the Kongres Nowej Prawicy (KNP, Congress of the New Right) won an unexpectedly high four seats under the idiosyncratic leadership of Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who admires Vladimir Putin and has questioned whether women should be entitled to vote.

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: 32 seats
Population: 20.1 million
Joined EEC/EU: 2007
Head of government: Victor Ponta, USL
Next national election: Before December 2016
Currency: leu
GDP per capita (PPP): $12,808


The results from Romania, voting in its second European election, largely followed the results of Romania’s national elections in December 2012, when Victor Ponta, who consolidated the center-left into the Uniunea Social Liberală (USL, Social Liberal Union), and who won a strong majority. Romania Flag Icon

Ponta, leading the USL’s European efforts, won half of the seats and the largest share of the vote with over 40%.

The Partidul Naţional Liberal (PNL, National Liberal Party), formerly a member of Ponta’s coalition, entered the opposition in February, and it won six seats contesting the elections on its own. But it fell short of its goal of 15% of the vote, and its leader Crin Antonescu, has resigned, with the results denting his hopes for the presidential election scheduled for November. Ponta has not committed to whether he’ll run in that election, though polls show him with a wide lead.

The Partidul Democrat-Liberal (PD-L, Democratic Liberal Party) of Romania’s outgoing president Traian Băsescu, finished far behind in third place with around 12%.

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The Netherlands
: 26 seats
Population: 16.8 million
Joined EEC/EU: 1957
Head of government: Mark Rutte, VVD
Next national election: Before March 2017
Currency: euro
GDP per capita (PPP): $42,194


Despite fears that Geert Wilders and his xenophobic, anti-Islam  Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV, the Party for Freedom) would ultimately win the greatest share of the vote in an election that otherwise showcased the rise of right-wing populist eurosceptics, the PVV actually lost a seat from 2009 and won the support of just over 13% of the electorate, in part due to the controversy of Wilder’s recent anti-Moroccan remarksNetherlands Flag Icon

Instead, the two leading parties are relatively centrist opposition groups. The Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA, Christian Democratic Appeal), which has wide appeal among rural voters throughout The Netherlands, won five seats and around 15% of the vote nationally. The Democraten 66 (D66, Democrats 66) actually won even more support, 15.4%, and their performance continues a rise that first began with April’s local elections, when D66 took control of Amsterdam’s city government and otherwise won the support of urban Dutch voters.

D66 is a center-left liberal party, making it a more left-wing version of prime minister Mark Rutte’s Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD, People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy).

Despite a great deal of dissatisfaction with Rutte’s single-minded approach to reducing the Dutch budget deficit, support for the VVD didn’t collapse entirely. The election might have been even better for his junior coalition partner, the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA, Labour Party), which suffered significant losses in April’s local elections Both parties won three seats.

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: 21 seats
Population: 11.2 million
Joined EEC/EU: 1957
Head of government: Elio Di Rupo, PS
Next national election: May 25, 2014
Currency: euro
GDP per capita (PPP): $37,883


If the Dutch election results seem fragmented, the Belgian results are even more so, given that the country has two full sets of ideologically-based parties in each of its two major regions, the French-speaking Wallonia and the Dutch-speaking Flanders. Belgium Flag

As in the national and regional elections taking place simultaneously on Sunday, the Flemish nationalist Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA, New Flemish Alliance) dominated among Flemish voters. Its leader, Bart De Wever, waged a campaign largely downplaying his support for Flemish independence, instead focusing on tax cuts and other center-right economic policies and even greater autonomy for regional governments. It’s an approach that seems to have worked, and De Wever seems to have drawn support away from the more traditional center-right Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V, Christian Democratic and Flemish) and the xenophobic Vlaams Belang (VB, Flemish Interest). 

As a bloc, Belgium’s two liberal parties won greater support than its two center-left socialist parties, though the Parti Socialiste (PS, Socialist Party) of prime minister Elio Di Rupo maintained its three MEPs.

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: 21 seats
Population: 11.1 million
Joined EEC/EU: 1981
Head of government: Antonis Samaras, ND
Next national election: Before June 2016
Currency: euro
GDP per capita (PPP): $24,505


Alexis Tsipras, who significantly raised his profile as the Party of the European Left’s candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, won his first national election in Greece, as his anti-austerity, anti-bailout SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left — Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς) won the largest share of the vote, outpolling the governing center-right New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκρατία) of prime minister Antonis Samaras by a margin of 26.6% to 22.7%.Greece Flag Icon

It’s the first time that SYRIZA, which narrowly lost two elections in spring and summer 2012 to New Democracy, has won a Greek election. Tsipras has become one of the most outspoken voices across Europe decrying the harsh terms of the austerity measures required pursuant to the ‘memorandum,’ the bailout terms required by the ‘troika’ of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.

He is now agitating for Samaras to call snap elections to the Hellenic Parliament. Though Samaras is so far refusing to consider new elections, they seem likely to come sooner than later.

Samaras, whose government is straining after years of budget cuts to social welfare spending, tax increases, staggering unemployment and depression levels of economic contraction, governs with a razor-thin majority in coalition with PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement – Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα), Greece’s traditional center-left party. Though PASOK, running as the largest member of the newly formed Olive Tree coalition (Ελιά), won around 8% of the vote, much of its support base long ago shifted to SYRIZA and the Greek Communist Party (Κομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας), which won two seats, just as many as PASOK.

The Democratic Left (Δημοκρατική Αριστερά), a pro-European group of former SYRIZA members, which initially joined Samaras’s coalition, but joined the opposition in June 2013, saw its support evaporate almost entirely to 1.20%.

Despite a government crackdown on some of its more violent members, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή) will now have three MEPs after winning nearly 9.5% of the vote, placing third behind SYRIZA and New Democracy.

A new pro-European group founded by Greek-German MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis failed to win any seats, though it won 1.44% of the vote. 

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Czech Republic
: 21 seats
Population: 10.5 million
Joined EEC/EU: 2004
Head of government: Bohuslav Sobotka, ČSSD
Next national election: Before October 2017
Currency: koruna
GDP per capita (PPP): $27,191


The biggest surprise in the Czech European elections is the enduring strength of the liberal Tradice Odpovědnost Prosperita 09 or ‘TOP 09′ (Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09), and the popularity of its leader, former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who unexpectedly became the runner-up in the first direct election for the Czech presidency in January 2013.czech

In the Czech Republic, the European elections were essentially a three-way tie among the unabashedly pro-European, federalist TOP 09, the governing center-left Česká strana sociálně demokratická (ČSSD, Czech Social Democratic Party) of prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the rising force on the Czech right, the Akce nespokojených občanů (ANO, Action of Dissatisfied Citizens), founded just two years ago by wealth businessman Andrej Babiš.

Following parliamentary elections in October 2013, the ČSSD only narrowly defeated ANO, in a race that swept the former government, led by the Občanská demokratická strana (ODS, Civic Democratic Party) out of power. In addition to the unpopularity of its budget cuts and other austerity measures, its leader and prime minister Petr Nečas was embroiled in an embarrassing surveillance scandal relating to his affair with his chief of staff, Jana Nagyová.

The fractured result forced the ČSSD to form a governing coalition with ANO, and Babiš is now the government’s finance minister and deputy prime minister. Though Babiš isn’t as eurosceptic as the ODS or former Czech president Václav Klaus, he’s been somewhat suspicious of the influence of EU regulation, and he’s been noncommittal on two key Czech-EU issues — Czech accession to the eurozone and joining 25 other EU member-states in signing the 2012 fiscal compact. The British and Czech governments were, at the time, the only counties that refused to sign it, which generally obligates governments to a budget deficit of no more than 3% of GDP.

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: 21 seats
Population: 10.5 million
Joined EEC/EU: 1986
Head of government: Pedro Passos Coelho, PSD
Next national election: Before October 2015
Currency: euro
GDP per capita (PPP): $23,385


Not surprisingly for a country that’s only just emerging from a three-year bailout program, the opposition Partido Socialista (PS, Socialist Party) won the European elections with around 31.5% of the vote, giving it hope that it will win the next national elections between now and October 2015. portugal flag

A coalition of the two governing conservative parties, the largest of which is the Partido Social Democrata (PSD, Social Democratic Party) of prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho, won just 27.7%.

After years of austerity that required the government to introduce a full menu of painful adjustments — higher income taxes and VAT, cuts to wages, pensions and unemployment benefits and additional budget cuts in social welfare spending — Portugal is set to exit its $78 billion bailout, as of earlier this month, and it won’t need a new bailout this summer.

The current government came to power in June 2011 after the Socialists took the controversial steps of moving closer to accepting a bailout. Once in power, however, Passos Coelho essentially doubled down on the bailout.

As in Spain, both traditional and new parties on the far left have emerged to challenge both the Socialists and the Social Democrats. The Coligação Democrática Unitária (Democatic Unitarian Coalition), a red-green coalition founded in 1987, won three MEPs. The green conservative Partido da Terra (Earth Party) won two seats, rather unexpectedly, running on a anti-status quo campaign. Though it won just 0.67% in the 2009 European elections, it won 6.5% in 2014.

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: 21 seats
Population: 9.9 million
Joined EEC/EU: 2004
Head of government: Viktor Orbán, Fidesz
Next national election: Before April 2018
Currency: forint
GDP per capita (PPP): $19,638


Coming in the wake of national elections a month ago, Hungary’s center-right, ruling Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség (Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance) of prime minister Viktor Orbán, who enjoys a two-thirds majority in Hungary’s parliament, the Országgyűlés, won an equally overwhelming victory in the European elections.Hungary Flag Icon

The far-right, xenophobic Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Jobbik) placed second, winning nearly 15% of the vote and three MEPs, pushing Hungary’s center-left Magyar Szocialista Párt (MSzP, Hungarian Socialist Party) into a humiliating third place.

Orbán’s lopsided victory means that he controls the sixth-largest bloc within the European People’s Party. So his announcement yesterday that he won’t support former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission could complicated Juncker’s aggressive efforts to claim the job as his mandate, in light of the EPP’s victory as the largest group across the entire European Union.

Orbán’s decision is payback against Viviane Reding, the current Luxembourgish commissioner that led EU criticism against Orbán’s first-term efforts to change Hungary’s constitution in ways that consolidated power in a troubling and often anti-democratic manner.

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: 20 seats
Population: 9.6 million 
Joined EEC/EU: 1995
Head of government: Fredrik Reinfeldt, Moderates 
Next national election: Before September 2014
Currency: krona
GDP per capita (PPP): $41,191


With national elections looming in September, Sweden’s fractured European election results confirm that the center-right government of  two-term prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is likely headed into opposition. Sweden

Not only did the Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti (SAP, Swedish Social Democratic Party) do well on Sunday, so did its former junior partner its former ‘red-green’ coalition, the Miljöpartiet de Gröna (Green Party). Together, they won 9 out of Sweden’s 20 seats in the European Parliament. That’s a good sign that the relatively moderate Social Democratic leader Stefan Löfven, a former trade union leader, will become Sweden’s next prime minister.

Reinfeldt’s governing Moderata samlingspartiet (Moderate Party) won just three MEPs.

Alongside the success of the left and the greens, the Feministiskt initiativ (Feminist Initiative), a feminist party founded in 2005, won 5.3% of the vote, marking the first time an MEP will come from an explicitly feminist party.

The far right reared its head in Sweden, as it did in so many other countries, with the anti-immigrant, nationalist Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats) winning its first two seats to the European Parliament.

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