The night of the proms is about to begin at European parliament, with fresh MEPs arriving to Brussels.
For the first time, it’s a real night of the proms: most MEPs don’t know the place. Citizen have elected more first-time MEPs than already having served, while the proportion used to be 50/50.
The contrast is the most striking in France: 73% of MEPs are newcomers, against 60% on average for the whole 751 MEPs.
This is partly due to a slow collapse of traditional parties in France. National Rally has eaten up part of the seats that used to be occupied by the center-left and center-right in 2014 already, with 24 seats. This time, LREM with its Renaissance list seems to have finished the job: they will get 21 seats at the EP, while the socialists and Les Republicains only have 5 and 8 seats.
The two winners have few MEPs having already served in their list. Renaissance has only three, Pascal Canfin, Dominique Riquet and Pascal Durant. Even National Rally has more, with 5 MEPs that were already there following the 2014 elections. Socialists have 2 experienced MEPs out of 5, and LR will have 3.
This situation creates an imbalance between France and Germany: half of the German delegation, or 40 MEPs, have already been there. Understanding how it works is already a major asset: finding your way in the complicated buildings and knowing how to build consensus around a text are not easy things.
The first steps of Nathalie Loiseau at the European Parliament illustrate that being an MEP is not that easy. According to Belgium’s daily Le Soir, who published an article which was later unpublished, she said “off the record” to journalists that Manfred Weber was an “ectoplasm”. Loiseau has been harshly criticized in France since the beginning, including within Macron’s closest team. As old MEPs know – diplomacy and protocol are crucial at European Parliament.