Over the last several weeks, our blog and the world watched in awe as the world’s largest electorate overwhelmingly elected Narendra Modi in a dazzling display of democratic vibrancy. The sheer scale and implications of the Indian election overshadowed other equally important events and even another landmark election.
From May 22nd-25th, the 28 countries of the European Union held a series of elections to elect their respective Members of European Parliament (MEPs). These MEPs will represent their country in a new European Parliament (EP) in Brussels and Strasbourg. In the past, these elections have been discounted as being inconsequential; a sideshow to the more important national elections. Since elections to the EP began in 1979, voter turnout has declined every year and voters seldom know who their MEP is.
Previous EP elections have yielded incremental and gradual change. However, these elections have proven decidedly different. This election cycle saw mainstream parties in France and the UK decimated and in some cases nearly wiped out. Fringe parties that had been previously described as contemptible and ‘untouchable’ defeated traditional political powerhouses such as the Socialist Party in France and the Liberal Democrats in the UK.
Numerous Eurosceptic parties across the continent rode a wave of anti-establishment sentiment to victory. Years of persistent economic hardship and instability in countries like Greece and Spain have culminated in this political radicalization. The results from this election cycle yield valuable insights into the changing European psyche. With many important national elections in the coming years – the UK et al – the events of May 22nd-25th could prove highly influential.
Tomorrow, we will focus on how the results of the elections will affect specific countries and what it means for investors.