Last week’s European elections drew one of the largest turnouts in recent memory. Even in the UK the turnout was higher than at the last elections, in this case probably to mark the protest vote. In mainland Europe however, two distinct results are discernible. Firstly, there still seems to be a small plurality in favour of Europe. Mainstream parties have held their own enough to keep a social democrat majority in Brussels. However, the second takeaway is the continued march of the populists in many European countries such as for example, Italy, France, and of course the UK.
Old institutions are hard to break, and it is still far from certain that the European commission, the only European organ that really counts, will change enough to reflect the new trends in the electorate. Key issues to disentangle include: the fiscal compact that the med nations are looking for and that Germany abhors; a common immigration policy with teeth and resources, the rolling back of some of the more ambitious European dreams of full integration, that fly in the face of the significant rise of local nationalisms.