european parliament

Elusive Bulgarian Politician On Track To Take Disappearing Act To Brussels  

Bulgaria's "undisputed media mogul" is the focus of national attention as he runs for the European Parliament -- even though he hasn't been seen for two years.

Britons Cant Help but Make the European Elections All About Brexit   26%

Britons are gearing up for what was supposed to be someone else’s election.

For most European Union countries, this week’s elections are an opportunity to elect representatives to the bloc’s legislative body, the European Parliament, for the next five years. For Britain, however, the May 23 vote will take on a decidedly different tone—one in which its voters will select candidates to shape a body that, until recently, many assumed would no longer matter to them because of Brexit. Depending on what happens with the country’s stalled bid to leave the EU (spoiler: No one knows), newly elected British members of the European Parliament could end up taking their seats for weeks, months, years—or possibly not at all.

In an alternative universe, the country would have left the bloc on March 29 as planned. In this universe, however, Parliament has rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated Brexit deal with the EU three times. No one knows when, or even if, Britain will leave the bloc. Britons remain hopelessly divided over the best way forward and over which parties can lead them there.

It is for this reason that these European elections, which have in the past been low-priority votes that few turn out for, stand to be consequential. The polls have the potential to give a snapshot of where the public stands on Brexit, nearly three years after the original referendum. It will provide voters the opportunity to voice their frustrations and potentially throw their support behind emerging parties. Perhaps most important for those currently in government in Britain, this vote will signal which voters are most mobilized to turn out in future elections.

Put another way, it will tell British lawmakers who is angriest.

There’s plenty of anger to go around: Those who voted in 2016 for Britain to leave the EU—52 percent—are frustrated that the goal has yet to be realized. Those who voted to remain—48 percent—are angry that Brexit could still happen at all.

If it sounds like this contest is shaping up to be all about Brexit, that’s because it is. Though European elections are ostensibly about electing lawmakers who will shape the EU’s future, they almost always end up being domestic affairs—and no subject is more dominant in British national politics now than Brexit. Paradoxically, the country that is debating the EU most intensely is the country that is set to leave.

[Read: The European press corps cannot cover the EU]

The temptation to treat the European elections as a proxy for a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership has already been seized by virtually every party in contention, and the idea appears to be spreading among voters too. A recent survey by the British polling firm YouGov projects that the nascent Brexit Party, which advocates Britain leaving the EU without a deal, could win as much as 35 percent of the vote—higher than the Conservative (9 percent) and Labour (15 percent) Parties combined. The anti-Brexit parties, which include the Liberal Democrats (16 percent), the Greens (10 percent), and the newly established pro-second-referendum party Change U.K. (5 percent), are projected to win a combined 31 percent of the vote.

Most European Parliament candidates I spoke with said that this election was being treated like another Brexit vote, but not all of them think it should be. “It’s a false promise that people will be selling, because we’ve already had a referendum—we’ve already had a decision,” Emma McClarkin, an incumbent Conservative MEP and Brexit supporter who represents England’s East Midlands, told me.

It’s true that victories for the Brexit Party and Change U.K. in the European elections won’t shift the makeup of Britain’s Parliament. For these new parties, though, that hardly seems to matter. To hear them tell it, the point of contesting the European elections is “to build a platform for a general election,” Alexandra Phillips, a Brexit Party MEP candidate for England’s Southeast region, told me. She said a Brexit Party victory in the European election would “send a very clear message back to the political parties in the U.K. about what it is they need to do”: deliver Brexit.

[Read: The far right wants to gut the EU, not kill it]

Indeed, neither the Brexit Party nor Change U.K. appears to have any policies apart from Brexit. But both see the European elections as a springboard into national politics. “If we get any seats [in the European Parliament], it will be a triumph,” Gavin Esler, a Change U.K. candidate for London, told me.

Still, converting victory in Europe into success at the national level is far from easy. Just look at the Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage’s former outfit, the U.K. Independence Party: Despite winning the largest share of votes in the last European elections in 2014, it has no seats in the British Parliament. This is due in part to low voter turnout in the European elections and the EU’s proportional-voting system, which, unlike Britain’s winner-take-all national elections, enables smaller parties to perform better. But it also stems from the fact that voters are more likely to lend their support to smaller parties in elections where the makeup of the national government isn’t at stake.

Seb Dance, an incumbent Labour MEP representing London, expressed concern that a new crop of British MEPs who were focused exclusively on Brexit could distract voters from other issues facing the country.

“I don’t get the point of sending people to the European Parliament who are just going to stand there and make speeches denouncing it, which is what they do,” he told me.

[Read: There’s no escaping Brexit, even at the pub]

As far as the candidates of the new parties are concerned, that will be the point when a new session of the European Parliament convenes in July.

“The big issue that needs to be solved is leaving the European Union,” Phillips, the Brexit Party candidate, said. “That is the only issue in town.”

Surfing the Green wave? Climate party hopes ride high in EU vote  

An ebb in support for mainstream parties is raising hopes among Europe's Greens that they could act as kingmakers in the next European Parliament, with growing concerns over climate change likely to hand them their strongest showing yet.

The Guardian view on Greens in Europe: hopeful signs | Editorial   10%

An enlarged Green group in the European parliament would drive climate policy forward, and prove that the activism of recent months has been effective

It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. Even the buffeting by the gale of rightwing nationalist parties in the European elections has a bracing message: that the environment is back on the political agenda. Recent months have seen a dramatic rise in the profile of green issues, following last year’s warning from the UN that the window of opportunity for action on emissions has shrunk to 12 years. The remarkable achievement of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the school strikes movement she launched, combined with advances by Green parties across Europe and the embrace of a Green New Deal by many potential Democratic presidential candidates, has been to shift the political mood in such a way as to give reason for hope as well as dread.

Most European school strikers can’t vote (except in Austria, where the voting age is 16). Even if they could, the scope of the European parliament to enact the measures they would like to see, to limit global heating or protect wildlife, should not be exaggerated. MEPs elect the commission president – a decision of profound importance. But the power to propose legislation rests with the commission, while the EU’s negotiating position at next year’s crucial round of UN climate talks – where the Paris agreement takes force and states agree new targets – will be agreed by the council, made up of leaders of member states.

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Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage acts like a winner as EU election disaster looms for UKs two main parties   26%

Almost three years since the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the country goes to the polls Thursday to elect 73 members to the European Parliament, the EU’s legislative body.According to the latest opinion polls, the populist Brexit Party, led by the veteran Eurosceptic MEP Nigel Farage is set to grab 32 seats.“A change is coming,” Brexit Party candidate Katharine Harborne warned, a reference aimed at fans of TV series Game of Thrones.The party was only founded four months…

Flamboyant Dutch populist Thierry Baude is one to watch in this weeks EU elections  

A flamboyant Dutch populist could open the floodgates for a tidal wave of Eurosceptic and anti-immigration parties across the continent in this week’s European Parliament elections.Classics-quoting climate sceptic Thierry Baudet founded the Forum for Democracy just two years ago, but his party is on course to beat Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals when the Netherlands votes on Thursday.As the first country in the EU to vote, along with exit-bound Britain, Dutch exit polls will be closely…

Far-right parties hope to undermine E.U. by winning European elections  

What’s at stake in this week’s elections for European Parliament.

European elections 2019: Where the parties stand on Brexit   6%

UK elections to the European Parliament are fast approaching - what are the parties' policies?

The slightly complicated maths behind electing MEPs  

Seats in the European Parliament representing England, Scotland and Wales are distributed according to the D'Hondt system, a type of proportional representation.

What's at stake across Europe  

Europe is preparing for a key test of democracy with elections to the European parliament later this week.

What the parties think about Brexit   6%

UK elections to the European Parliament are fast approaching - what are the parties' policies?

Populists, nationalists again test their strength in pan-European vote   12%

The last time elections for the European Parliament were held, the vote was dismissed by many as a sleepy, low-stakes affair.

Five years ago, Brexit wasn’t even a blip on the horizon. Populist and extreme-right parties were mainly political sideshows. The pillars of the postwar order — NATO, the...

Juncker slams 'stupid nationalists' ahead of elections   -2%

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has lashed out at "stupid nationalists" on the eve of European elections in which euroskeptic politicians are expected to make gains in the European Parliament.

Juncker lashes out at 'stupid nationalists' on eve of European elections   -3%

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker criticized "stupid nationalists" ahead of elections in which euroskeptic politicians are expected to make big gains in the European Parliament.

E.U. Elections 2019: How the System Works and Why It Matters   40%

With Brexit looming and nationalism on the rise, Europe goes to the polls this week to elect the European Parliament.

A Populist Win Could Dull Europes Appetite for Free Trade   13%

Populists on the left and the right are poised to make significant gains in elections for the European Parliament, possibly complicating trade negotiations with the U.S.