Can Europe breathe a sigh of relief?

Despite very different results in the individual member states the overall picture that emerges after the European elections is clear: the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic groups suffered major losses, the Liberals and Greens made big gains, and the eurosceptic and right-wing nationalist spectrum also gained ground. For various reasons commentators are worried by the election results.

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Financial Times (GB) /

Lack of unity will hinder EU government

The pro-EU bloc in the European Parliament may have the majority but it isn't united, the Financial Times concludes:

“The traditional centre-left and centre-right are in decline. They are losing ground not just to populist nationalists, but also to parties that appeal to an urbanised middle-class, such as the greens and liberals. ... The consequence is likely to be a period of political uncertainty and flux that will make it harder for the EU to act. The fact that the centre-right, socialists, liberals and greens are all broadly pro-EU cannot disguise their very different views on key areas such as climate change and eurozone reform.”

Polityka (PL) /

A more polarised parliament

Polityka also predicts a new mood in the European Parliament:

“The pro-European Christian and Social Democrats have suffered major losses, but the Liberal and the Greens have benefited from this and secured more support. The conservative Eurosceptics (including the Tories and the PiS) have made big losses, but the even harsher critics of the European Union gathered around Salvini and Farage profited from that. These results won't change the ideological balance of power all that much, but they will lead to stronger polarisation in the European Parliament.”

T24 (TR) /

Far right must not become the norm

The electoral success of far-right parties gives them a new status in Europe, the news website T24 laments:

“In this vote the people punished the centrist parties, which had started to resemble the far-right parties - and even tried to imitate them. As a result the people turned to the originals on the far right and far left. ... We're living in a time in which the far right is leaving its place on the sidelines and destroying the chemistry of the centrist parties, and in which its discourse is being emulated. ... It would be wrong to play down this political development as temporary, limited to specific regions, or a mere accident. Unless radical and permanent measures are taken the Europe envisioned in the 1950s will remain nothing more than a dream.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

The populists' game isn't over yet

The threat of populism hasn't been banished yet, warns Helsingin Sanomat:

“The surprise in this election was that the populist parties didn't achieve a pan-European victory. This perhaps wasn't due to their not being able to mobilise their supporters but that they simply didn't have any more supporters. ... Those who hoped that these elections would stop the deepening of EU cooperation will no doubt be disappointed. But the populists' game is not over yet. The member states have the most power in the EU. The rise of the populists in some EU countries could prompt the latter to defend their national interests more fiercely at the expense of the community's interests.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Thanks to the young

Young voters have saved Europe, comments Andrea Bonanni, La Repubblica's correspondent in Brussels:

“With the exception of those in Italy and France, the Europeans, whom the sovereignists had called on to take part in an anti-EU referendum, fended off the threat. The trend of abstaining from voting that had gone on for years was reversed, and more than half of the 430 million voters went to the polls. Above all many young people. If Europe has been saved today, then it's above all thanks to them. ... The challenge Europe faces, which was initiated by the major powers that are hostile to the EU - Moscow, Washington and Beijing - and supported by the right-wing populists, has failed the test of the elections. ... The overwhelming majority of Europeans remain true to the idea of a liberal democracy that can guarantee the political and social rights of its citizens.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

The centre parties must work together

The earthquake didn't happen but the European centre needs to work together constructively now, notes Dagens Nyheter:

“In total more than a quarter of the seats have gone to parties like Italy's Lega, Poland's PiS and the Sweden Democrats. Nevertheless this is not a majority, and the nationalists are divided among themselves, which will make it more difficult for them to cause trouble. If the pro-European forces of the broad centre can reach compromises it will be possible to move forward constructively with the EU Parliament's work.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

EU in limbo

These elections haven't brought any real changes for the bloc, comments Corriere del Ticino's editor-in-chief Fabio Pontiggia:

“Already on the basis of the partial assessments and preliminary data of yesterday night we can conclude the following for these anxiously awaited European elections: the EU is in the middle of the ford. It probably has neither the energy to battle its way out of the difficulties it faced as a result of the financial and national debt crisis, the ensuing recession and the migration issue, nor is it so weak that it will implode under the pressure of the protests of sovereigntist, nationalist and populist parties and movements. So it's neither too strong nor too weak.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

More likeable when under threat

Despite the many shortcomings of EU policies in the end voters sided with the union, Dvevnik notes:

“Angela Merkel is leaving, Emmanuel Macron is increasingly unpopular and consequently losing political clout. Even among the candidates for the post of Commission president there is no one who exudes much authority. ... With its two locations in Brussels and Strasbourg - and the associated costs - the EU Parliament has given plenty of ammunition to critics who decry the bloated bureaucracy and waste of money. This also makes it hard to believe that the EU understands voters and their concerns. Clearly, however, the EU becomes more likeable when it's under threat, for example from Brexit or Donald Trump. It's like an ugly listed building that people only start to like when the wrecking ball is at the ready.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Domestic policy will now be made in Europe

European and domestic policy are no longer separate spheres after these elections, Die Presse comments:

“These European elections have attained their real significance indirectly: they show that domestic and European policy are communicating vessels. Paradoxically, the biggest impact of this vote will be felt at the national level: in Germany, where the fate of the grand coalition rests on a knife-edge after Sunday's election; in Poland, where the elections have given the liberal opposition a boost in the run-up to the parliamentary elections; in Italy, where the state is progressively being turned into an illiberal republic; and in Britain, where the defeat of the governing Tories has given the Brexit negotiations a fatal dynamic. Domestic policy will no longer be solely determined domestically.”