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European Parliament Elections: A New Political Environment in Europe and Turkey

Citizens of the European Union (EU) voted to elect 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from May 23-26, 2019, making this the second largest democratic election in the world. Resulting with the traditional mainstream center parties weakened, while anti-establishment parties, including the Greens and the far-right populists, increasing their power. The two main political groups (the European People’s Party and Social Democrats), for the first time in history, had lost their combined majority in the European Parliament (EP). Despite all the discouraging signs, the new political environment in Europe can still provide opportunities to develop Turkey-EU relations.

European Parliament Elections A New Political Environment in Europe and
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, High Representative of the EU for FASP Federica Mogherini, and European Commissioner for ENP-EN Johannes Hahn speak in a press conference in Brussels on March 15, 2019. DURSUN AYDEMİR / AA Photo
 

Elections in a Period of Change, Challenge, and Uncertainty1

Over the years and with subsequent changes in European treaties, the EP has acquired substantial powers. Together, with the representatives of the governments of the Member States in the Council, the Parliament shapes the direction in which the European project is heading towards today. Besides the policies of the leading powers within the EU, it is the structure and balance of power within the Parliament that shapes the leadership of the EU and the Commission itself. Despite waning interest and a low level of participation in the elections, the EP is still an important institution in Europe and plays a crucial role in relations with EU-neighboring regions, including EU candidate Turkey.

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