Balkan States Eye EU Elections in Hope of Enlargement
This week, voters across the European Union will go to the polls for European Parliament elections. For observers in the Western Balkans, there is keen interest in what the results will say about future policies in the region — especially on the vexed question of EU enlargement.
In truth, the vote may not yield many clues as it will merely start the ball rolling on a whole series of other changes in the EU over the months ahead.
There is no doubt that the elections are taking place against a backdrop of unparalleled uncertainty and existential angst in the European Union.
While the last elections, in 2014, took place in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the last five years have seen a number of other shocks.
There was the 2015 migrant crisis. Then we had the Brexit referendum, in 2016. Since then, there have been real worries about the rise of populist and far-right parties across Europe. For all these reasons, the elections have grabbed a lot of attention.
At present, it is hard to say what the outcome will be.
The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) looks on course to gain the most seats in the 751-member parliament. Projections from Politico suggest it could get around 170 or so from its member parties across the European Union.
It is followed by the Progressive Alliance of Socialist and Democrats (S&D), which looks on course to get around 150 seats. In third place is the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, which includes French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche.
Behind the big three, there are a whole range of other groupings that are likely to be represented in the next parliament.
These range from the far-right populists of the European Alliance of People and...