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Nationalists surge in EU Parliament, but pro-EU parties remain dominant
[BRUSSELS] Pro-European parties kept a firm grip on the EU parliament on Monday as liberal and green parties matched a surge by eurosceptic parties, who won control of a quarter of seats in European elections for the first time.
The far-right and nationalists in Italy, Britain, France and Poland came out on top in their national votes on Sunday, shaking up politics at home but failing to dramatically alter the balance of pro-European power in EU assembly.
Facing a more hostile Russia, China's growing economic might and an unpredictable US President Donald Trump, many Europeans appeared to heed a message that the EU needed to stick together to protect workers' rights, free speech and democracy.
"We are going to build a social Europe, a Europe that protects," Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose revival among Spanish voters offset a fall in centre-left support in Germany, told a news conference late on Sunday night.
Investor sentiment was bolstered by the smaller than expected gains by populist parties. However, the drop in support for the main centre-right and centre-left blocs could complicate policymaking and require broader cross-party agreements and discipline, market analysts said.
Provisional results published at 08:18 GMT on Monday showed the Socialists, Greens, liberals and conservatives with 507 of the 751 seats in the EU Parliament, which helps pass laws for more than 500 million Europeans.
The search for a majority, as well as securing the top EU jobs, will now dominate as pro-EU groups seek to shield the EU from anti-establishment forces, who want to break up the world's largest trading bloc but who are split over its future.