Tuesday

24th May 2016

EUobserved

After the EP vote – working the camembert

  • The EP in glossy mode (Photo: EUobserver)

And we're off. Voting has started. The European Parliament has a twitchy, nervous feel to it.

It is heaving with TV equipment, temporary stages, earnest-looking news analysis corners, and reams and reams of wifi-ensuring masking tape. On the popular Luxembourg square nearby, a stage has been erected. Large portrait posters line the space leading to it. There's Aliki the student, Magdalena the factory worker and Ricardo, who has retired.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Portraits of EU citizens (Photo: EUobserver)

"Act. React. Impact" urges a slogan. "This time is different" is another more plaintive-sounding one.

There are four days of voting. Technically no results are meant to come out before 11pm on Sunday evening. In a heroic assumption about the state of European political space, the commission reasons that citizens in later-voting states will be swayed by votes that have gone before.

Nevertheless the Dutch plan to flout the EU's omerta rule and Italy's Nota Politica website will be taking an extreme interest horse-racing.

And there will be some turnout stats which usually provide a diverting horror show.

Into the void come statistics. Some 400 million people are entitled to vote. Around 40 million of them are first-time voters. Some 16,000 people are running for the 751 seats. Of these around 3,000 are in France. Forty-nine percent of Slovenia's candidates are women, in Cyprus just 23 percent.

There are several octogenarians trying to make it to Brussels. The very oldest MEP-wanna-be is a 92-year-old Greek left-winger. A sprinkling of 18-year-olds and several twenty-somethings are also trying their luck.

Pie charts – or the more pungently named camemberts – predicting possible group formations are being earnestly pored over.

Everyone wants to know where the non-inscrits or non-attached are going. Non-inscrits is the polite term for politically homeless MEPs. Around half of the outgoing batch come from hard right groups such as Lega Nord or Vlaams Belang.

There are expected to be many more after the EU vote. Whether they can collectively and harmoniously turn themselves into 'inscrits' is one of the burning questions of this election.

But the evening will be all about timing. And being able to add up. Because the commission presidency, in theory, is supposed to go to the party with the most votes. Or, failing that, to the candidate that can get the most support in the new EP.

The nitty gritty will start at 10pm when the first projections for the groups and seats come in. The first preliminary EU results come an hour later.

The major political groups and their commission-president hopefuls will also be lurking with intent in the parliament.

Centre-right candidate Jean-Claude Juncker and his centre-left rival Martin Schulz are slated to hold press conferences. They will be carefully choreographed affairs, particularly if, as predicted, Juncker's EPP is in the lead by a mere whisker.

That's where preferential voting – in 20 member states – and election thresholds – in 14 member states – could come into play. If majorities are slim, every seat will count. Only it will take some days before the results of preferential voting and of who has made the threshold – several parties will hang just above or just below – are finalised.

Righteous declarations, posturing, a measured amount of fence-sitting and a hefty dose of speculation is to be expected.

The EP will make its first overt tactical move on Tuesday morning when it sends a message to EU leaders on how it assesses the results.

EU leaders, meeting Tuesday evening, have pre-emptively already sent their own (cagey) message to MEPs informing them – in a thoroughly non-committal manner – that they will see what they can learn from the results.

The ensuing bunfight should be enough to conceal any weakness, equivocacy or disunity on Ukraine – the other 'topic' to be discussed at dinner.

EUobserved

Death by 'hearings'

The hearings, the hearings. It's all about the hearings. Please make it stop. Or should that be start?

News in Brief

  1. Technical witness tells EP diesel cheating not necessary
  2. Poland presents 'solutions' to constitutional crisis
  3. Greek bailout without IMF not an option, says Dijsselbloem
  4. Germany's Bayer makes offer to buy US giant Monsanto
  5. Greece evacuates Idomeni migrant camp
  6. Austria: far-right candidate defeated
  7. EU boosts Mediterranean naval campaign
  8. Greece to evacuate Idomeni migrant camp

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  2. Innovators Under 35Meet MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Award Recipients from Belgium on 25 May, 6pm
  3. Open EuropeJoin the Brussels Brexit Debate on Wednesday, 25 May at 5:00 PM
  4. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  5. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  6. CEDEC - Covenant of MayorsWebinar on 25 May - Electric Vehicles Development: The Role of Local Entities
  7. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  10. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan
  11. World VisionCash-based Programming to Address Hunger in South Sudan:
  12. Belgrade Security ForumOpen Call for Applications! Join the Events Team at the 6th Belgrade Security Forum.

Latest News

  1. Austria vote is wake-up call for EU left
  2. Poland vows solution to judicial crisis
  3. Terrorists likely stockpiling explosives in EU, says Europol
  4. EU navies to help Libya coastguard stop migrants
  5. Merkel casts doubt on Turkey visa-free travel
  6. EU and Poland in last minute talks on rule of law
  7. Tough challenges ahead for Austria's president
  8. Search for VW compensation larger in EU than in US