This weekend’s European Parliament election has produced, overall, a swing to the centre-right (although, with the British Conservatives splitting the centre-right into two Euro-parties, the overall EPP-ED numbers have actually fallen).
This is, though, a very broad picture, averaged out across 27 member states. The overall impression I got from watching the UK coverage and reading the European press last night was just how fragmented the results were, even within the UK’s monolithic political culture.
Labour, for example, were thumped in most places, but less so in London. The Scottish nationalists did well, Plaid Cymru not so much. The south east saw UKIP triumphant, but they made little headway outside England and were the second story behind the BNP in the north.
Internationally, it was the same. The populists did well in the UK, but lost heavily in Poland. The opposition won in Spain, but lost in France and Italy.
It’s a reminder of how local demographics and history create the political landscapes in different areas, more so than manifestos or news headlines.
There isn’t a neat ‘Europe of Nations’ (as the Euro-party name has it), that could provide an alternative to the messy tangle of alliances and parties in Strasbourg. Even at national level, we live in a Europe of fragments, that get brought together in different ways at different times. The election result was yesterday’s snapshot.