The rise of Eurosceptic parties in the European Parliament, on both the left and right, does not threaten the numerical balance of power in Brussels, but it does bring about political upheavals. Britain is closer to the exit; France closer to the abyss. More and more power goes to the EU, while the EU is in trouble, and is increasingly powerless. The European elections have made divergent forces stronger.
The greatest source of uncertainty is France. Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National, dealt the Parisian elite a slap in the face. Her next goal is the French presidential election of 2017. President Hollande is no longer taken seriously; for the French, he is a buffoon. The economy is stagnating and the centre-right opposition is fighting an internal power struggle. Marine Le Pen is now in a strong position for 2017. French political leaders in the second economy of the euro-zone are uncertain, unpredictable and scared. Le Pen puts the political class under pressure, and in Strasbourg, she'll get an influential forum as ringleader of a nationalist group.
Le Pen will do what Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, has been doing for years: use the European parliament as a platform for the home crowd. Ukip won the European elections, not only at the expense of the Conservatives. Labour saw its voters defect to Ukip, even in the North of England and Scotland where Ukip was considered hopeless. Ukip is driving Britain to the exit and Prime Minister Cameron has promised a referendum in 2017, with the question: 'in or out of the EU'. The British Liberal Democrats of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tried to put themselves on the map as resolutely pro-European. They were wiped off the map. Britain and France are two large countries with a rebellious home. They will bring the storm to Brussels.
The balance of power in the European Parliament has changed less dramatically than the media project. The Christian Democratic and Socialist groups have about 400 seats and form a majority, albeit a bit cramped. The largest delegations within those groups are the German CDU / CSU and the German SPD. They can enter into a Grand Coalition like in Berlin and just carry on regardless. Thus protest voters for 'less EU ' get more EU.
Yet the fragmentation and polarization within the European Parliament will have an effect on the issues. For international agreements a majority of 376 votes is required. Take the proposed trade agreement with the United States (TTIP). Both extreme left and extreme right parties are against; they want protectionism. The Greens are sceptic as is an undercurrent within the Socialist Party. A centre-right majority of Christian Democrats, free-market Liberals and Conservatives is no longer possible. The opposition against TTIP is possibly greater in the European Parliament than in the U.S. Senate.
In addition to the unruliness of France and Britain, an institutional war between the European Parliament and the European Council of Heads of Government is possible. The European Council must, according to the Lisbon Treaty, take into account 'the outcome of the European elections in the nomination of a new President of the European Commission'. The three top-candidates are socialist Martin Schulz, the Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker and the Liberal Guy Verhofstadt. Look at the election results of their groups: Christian Democrats suffered heavy losses, liberals lost because British and German liberals were decimated, and the socialists are status quo. The honour was saved by the gains made by Labour in the UK which, moreover, did not support the candidature of Schulz.
Considering the results, the three can be rejected immediately. Their presidential campaigns were pure anti-television by the way. In 'pidgin' English, the lingua franca of the EU, they tried to convince each other of how much they agreed with one another. Schulz dictated from the stage, while Verhofstadt over shouted himself, and Juncker was speaking himself to sleep. The three have a sample covenant: "one of the three" should be it. They want to reverse the procedure for their own sake.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, should take more time to look for a suitable candidate. This is not easy because the European Parliament is likely to liquidate the first nominee. Who dares then to take the leap? It's time for another generation of European leaders that is more practical and less pompous; what matters is the result and not the federal creed.