INSTANT VIEW: Centre-right wins European assembly vote
(Reuters) - Center-right parties retained control of the European Parliament in an election which ended on Sunday with a record low turnout and defeats for several national governments struggling over the economic crisis.
Following are comments on the results so far.
NICOLAUS HEINEN, ANALYST AT DEUTSCHE BANK:
"I think the reason why the conservatives were so successful on the European level has to be looked for in national politics. In Germany for example, 57 percent of voters said national topics gave the direction in their voting this year, while in 2004, only 51 percent. So this shows that national politics were a determining factor in the voting behavior.
"The success of smaller parties can be interpreted as a result of the de facto grand coalition between the socialists and conservatives, which we called a cartel of power. We will have that as well in the future.
"However, the tendency as you can see among the socialists ... is the internal debate about whether to support (European Commission President Jose Manuel) Barroso or not. I think that implies some potential for maneuvers in political decisions. So in my opinion the next legislature will entail more ad hoc coalitions."
THOMAS KLAU, Center FOR EUROPEAN REFORM:
"The most striking feature of the election results, and I'm speaking, of course, as of now, is the fact that the center-left parties across Europe, the Social Democrats and Socialists have not been able to give a plausible answer, political answer, to the economic crisis.
"We haven't seen ... a far-right wave washing across the European continent. That has not happened.
"The rise of the Green Party has been striking. The Green Party are the one political force in the EU that has (been) closest to creating a true European political party, a true European political movement ... with a political message that is strong and plausible, pro-European, that looks for European answers to the big problems the world and European society are facing, starting with climate change, of course.
"This is something that a substantial part of the electorate has welcomed. The success of the Greens, I think, is a clear indication there is a substantial part of the electorate that responds positively to European parties that give a European answer to the big problems of the day."
OUTGOING EU PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT HANS-GERT POETTERING:
"I am very pleased that pro-European parties ... achieved a very solid majority."
ANTONIO MISSIROLI, DIRECTOR OF STUDIES, EUROPEAN POLICY CENTER:
"The European People's Party will remain in control of the parliamentary agenda. They don't have enough to control things, but they can play a pivotal role in shaping alliances ... It will be difficult to form a coherent alliance against them.
"There are very good results for populist parties, especially on the right but not only on the right. (But) the extreme parties are very heterogeneous, they will hardly represent a cohesive bloc."
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
"Throughout the European Union, millions of people have used their democratic vote to elect members of the European Parliament. In doing so, they have expressed their views on the European Union's political future.
"I thank all citizens who have exercised their democratic rights. I can assure them that they are being heard.
"Overall, the results are an undeniable victory for those parties and candidates that support the European project and want to see the European Union delivering policy responses to their everyday concerns.
"The political forces that constructively address policy challenges, and that have constructively engaged with the Commission during the past legislature, occupy the overwhelming majority of the seats in the next European Parliament.
"From today onwards, Europe owes it to the voters to show once again that it can deliver. It must continue to pave the way through the economic and financial crisis. It must do all it can to support those most vulnerable in society, especially those facing unemployment. And Europe must grasp the opportunity to build a new social market economy that puts a smarter, greener growth at its core, so as to decisively address climate change.
"The turnout compared to 2004 shows that this is not the time for complacency. National politicians, whose debates all too often remain largely national in their focus, must acknowledge themselves more consistently as both national and European actors.
"The Commission will continue with its efforts to put the European Union at the center of the political debate in all member states.
"On behalf of the European Commission, I congratulate the successful candidates in these elections. The Commission and I look forward to working with them. The newly elected European Parliament will be a key actor in the shaping of policies in the years to come."
RICHARD ASHWORTH, DEPUTY LEADER OF BRITISH CONSERVATIVES IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT:
"In those countries with center-right governments we've not seen the extremely volatile politics we've seen in countries like the UK."
On center-right handling of the financial crisis:
"It has not been quite as acute, for example in France, as it has been in the UK."
PHILIPPE LAMBERTS, CO-PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN GREEN PARTY:
"We made gains where we could articulate that the way out of the financial and economic crisis is through a Green new deal to stimulate the economy. This should strengthen our hand. But in some countries like Spain, Italy and Poland we do not have enough people on the ground to articulate that.
"What we've seen is some people turning to the Eurosceptic parties and that has been fed by some fear and doubt.
"Social democracy has not been able to articulate a compelling vision.
"We have our existing alliance, and we'll see if we can widen that alliance to other groups, but it's too early to say.
"The next industrial revolution will be a Green one, and Europe is not poised to seize it. China and the U.S. are, but the train has not yet left and we have to act resolutely."
MARTIN SCHULZ, HEAD OF THE PARTY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISTS:
"It is bitterly disappointing, we had hoped for a better result. In most countries it went pretty bad for us."
GRAHAM WATSON, LEADER OF ALLIANCE OF LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS:
"It looks as if the Liberal Democrat group will come back into the new parliament about the same size. That means we should continue to hold the balance between left and right."
EU MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JOAQUIN ALMUNIA:
"I don't expect any major difficulties in decision-making. The composition of this parliament will not be significantly different from the previous one. Decisions on major issues were adopted in most cases by solid majorities," he told reporters.
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