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Analysis. All the first statements of the leading candidates spoke about a very familiar majority, starting with Ursula von der Leyen, who stressed the centrality of the EPP.

A fractured majority will decide European leadership: ‘We all have an interest in stability’

The majority is still there, a retread of the “Grosse Koalition” in the European version: the Popular, Socialists and Liberals together amount to around 400 votes. That is enough for self-sufficiency, barring any surprises from the “lone wolves” who vote differently from their group, a specter that always hangs over such secret votes.

There is also the possibility of a von der Leyen return, which as of Sunday evening seemed to be back on the table after its prospects had dimmed in recent months; however, it will still have to pass the test of getting an agreement from the heads of state and government who will soon meet in Brussels.

The French situation is paradoxical: Emmanuel Macron has been the biggest detractor of the “spitzenkandidaten” system – and also of a second term for von der Leyen – but the former kingmaker has been reduced to a lame duck by the Le Pen surge that led to the downfall of his government as he chose to dissolve the Assemblée Nationale.

All the first statements of the leading candidates spoke about a very familiar majority, starting with Ursula von der Leyen, who stressed the centrality of the EPP and the need to continue the work done so far together with the other two major European political families.

“This election has given us two messages,” said the German incumbent EC president. “First, there remains a majority in the center for a strong Europe, and that is crucial for stability. In other words, the center is holding.”

However, “it is also true that the extremes on the left and on the right have gained support, and this is why the result comes with great responsibility for the parties in the center. We may differ on individual points, but we all have an interest in stability, and we all want a strong and effective Europe,” she concluded.

She was echoed by the spitzenkandidat for the Socialists, Nicolas Schmit: “It is clear for us that we are open to strong cooperation with all democratic forces in this Parliament.” Recalling that the Socialists were the second group that managed to not lose members, he said they were ready to “negotiate an agreement for the next years.” This means, as he has been saying since the beginning of the election campaign, that “no possibility for us social democrats to have cooperation with those who want to dismantle, who want to weaken this Europe we have built [for] several decades.”

Overall, it was a clear call to collaborate once again.

As always in such cases, the important thing is to do the math. The total number of MEPs is 720; half plus one amounts to 361. The three major parties alone amount to even more than the so-called “Ursula majority,” which won out by only 9 votes, and which included elements from outside the traditional families, such as the representatives of the M5S. This is because in the previous Parliament, elected in 2019, the threshold was higher: there were 747 MEPs, as the British were still in.

Let’s look at the results from the Brussels perspective, which, of course, is different from the view from Rome and other capitals. According to the projections as of 1:30 a.m. on Sunday night, the EPP was confirmed as the leading party, mainly due to good results in Germany, Spain and Poland, and was set to gain 15 seats, pushing its total up to 191. There was a slight decline for the Socialists of the S&D group, projected to get 135 seats. The debacle of Macron’s Liberals in France was set to contribute to the Renew group’s loss of about 20 MEPs: this was the worst result in absolute terms, with the Greens also coming close, whose numbers were projected to shrink from over 70 to 53.

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) did well, thanks to Meloni and the Polish PiS, although their increase over their previous total in the Strasbourg chamber was almost unnoticeable: 72 seats (+3).

The Identitarians from ID, the other far-right group, was set to get 10 extra MEPs, up to 58: a good result for them, taking into account that they are missing the recently expelled AfD. ID’s success was certainly not due to the Lega, but to the breakthrough by Le Pen’s National Rally.

The Left, the smallest group in numerical terms, held stable; an Italian delegation from AVS will now join its ranks, the first once since the Tsipras List. And one should not overlook the 100 MEPs among the unaffiliated (including Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán’s Fidesz, as well as the M5S, still in search of a European home) and unaffiliated new entries (e.g., Sahra Wagenknecht’s party).

Since Sunday afternoon, the Hemicycle in Brussels has been transformed into an enormous press room for more than 700 journalists from radio, TV, online, news agencies and print media. The panoramic screen offered real-time updates about the closing of the polls in the various countries. All eyes were on the big ones, which elect the most MEPs: Germany finished in the late afternoon, Spain and France came in around 8 p.m., as did Poland. Italy would have the longest wait of all.

All around the press room, the labyrinthine building that houses the European Parliament’s offices in Brussels is dotted with the headquarters of European parties and groups, ready to give their hot takes on the increasingly accurate snapshot of the results. After 9 p.m., the statements from group leaders came, while the spitzenkandidaten waited until after 11 p.m., so they could have an overview of the whole picture, Italy included.

Among the hot takes, there were a few small surprises, coming from opposite sides of the political spectrum. The first came from ECR vice president Assita Kanko, who spoke in vaguely Melonian tones: “We worked very well [with the EPP] in the past five years, including with von der Leyen,” adding that in her view there is “nothing to prevent us from working with the EPP.”

The other came from the Green leaders, outgoing Philippe Lamberts and spitzenkandidat Bas Eikhout. The latter was very direct: “We are disappointed about the result,” but “challenges facing Europe are too big to play political games” and there is a need for a “stable majority,” so the Greens are “ready to take that responsibility” and contribute.

Since the numbers are there, those who want to join and make their contribution are bound to come. The task is to figure out how to put all these pieces together.

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