The total victory of the European People’s Party. The overwhelming victory of Democrats. The defeat of PES. This could easily be the headings for the period following the European Election, which best explain how things have been in this new term of the Union.
Objectively, it is a baffling result. At the latest election, EPP remarkably lost 56 MEPs (down to 221 from 274), the PES lost 5 (from 196 to 191) and Liberals lost 16 (from 83 to 67). Some adjustment should be made here, given that in the last term there were 766 while this one counts 751 of them, 15 less then – still, the order of magnitude is more or less the same. A more precise comparison could be done with percentages: EPP down from 35.7% to 29.4% – a real collapse – while PES held egregiously, from 25.5% to 25.4%. Liberals collapsed instead, from 10.8% to 8.9% now.
Looking at this, what would you expect? PES should have taken some more positions, right? It’s not the first party, but it’s the only one – in this majority and in the previous one (the same) – which at least hasn’t lost too much, its 5 MEPs less could be justified with the decrease in overall MEPs of this Parliament. Is it like this? Not at all. The negotiations following the election, which were held to create the next European Commission, marked a total defeat for Socialists, all to the good of EPP and Liberals. Now, sure thing Commissioners are chosen by governments and not parties, but they need to be voted by MEPs then, and the electoral result should be taken into consideration. In your dreams. The smart negotiating team of PES is going to go home with very few, perhaps less than what it had before, or so it seems.
The three top jobs – President of the Commission, President of the Council and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – are formally still the same: the two most important one given to (male) EPP representatives, the third to a (female) PES representative. The same as it was before, even though it was widely expected that PES would have at least tried to get the Presidency of the Council, having lost the Commission. No way. Dealing with Commissioners, the elected President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the following general frame: 14 posts (his one included) to EPP, 8 to PES, 5 to Liberals and 1 to British Conservatives. And PES is still fighting to get the Commissioner for Economic Affairs. You could argue that PES got the Presidency of the European Parliament! Still, that is a rotating post between PES and EPP, an exchange which is part of the alliance pact, and to say it all having the shift during the preparation of the elections (the second one then) will be much more useful. Even in Slovenia, Socialists – which are going to enter the government with a new, big majority – had their Commissioner post swiped by the current Prime Minister, defeated at the elections, who self-candidated and self-confirmed herself.
Once more then, praise to Guy Verhofstadt, the Head of Liberals at the Parliament, who entered the majority with an ‘act of force’ and showed Liberals are essential – with their 8 percent, they just 3 Commissioners left of those having 25 percent, which in turn has 6 (over 40 percent) Commissioners less of those obtaining 29% at the elections. Even though you take into consideration what we said before – Commissioners are appointed by governments – you should in any case expect the Parliament to have a say in the matter (and it seems the EP does not want to have this voice), saying that this Europe represents little its citizens is, at least, a measured analysis.