With the appointment of the next European Commission president in the balance, the centrist bloc will need to find a new coalition partner.
Last week’s European elections have concluded with losses for centre-ground parties, gains for right-wing populists, and a strong showing for liberal parties and the Greens.
The outcome means that the previous coalition that dominated the parliament will need the support of a third partner to command a majority.
After the 2014 election, the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the European People's Party/Christian Democrat (EPP) had formed a majority voting bloc, with a total of 412 seats out of 751; 221 for CD and 191 for SD.
In the most recent vote, EPP ended up with 173 seats and SD with 147, a total of 320 seats, or 56 shy of a majority.
The result will force the pair to form a new coalition with at least one other partner to ensure they have a majority.
The Liberal bloc (ALDE), which gained 102 seats and the Greens, which came behind them with 71 seats, will be leading contenders to make up the shortfall.
While Eurosceptic and right-wing populist parties gained ground, there was no overall shift to the right.
The incoming parliament will be tasked with approving Jean-Claude Juncker’s successor as EU Commission president. Both the EPP’s Manfred Weber and SD’s Frans Timmermans are going for the position.
Gabi Zimmer, the leader of the left-wing parliamentary group with 37 votes said that her bloc was willing to cooperate in order to form a “broad alliance” against the far-right. Leading Green candidate Ska Keller, however, has said discussion of any alliance would be determined based on “content”.
Far-right unification still unlikely
The three right-wing populist parties the ECR, ENF,and EFDD posted a slightly improved final seat count with 171 seat, around 16 more than before.
If they united, they could become the second largest bloc but they are unlikely to unify under one parliamentary group unless national parties break off from one of the larger blocs.
For example, the ruling right-wing Hungarian Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which according to forecasts gained 12 seats, could break away from the EPP and join a new far-right ENF alliance under Italian Lega leader, Matteo Salvini.