European stock markets moved higher Monday as election results rolled in from the European Union and Ukraine.
Investors seemed relieved as results showed traditional left-center and right-center parties will hold a majority of seats in the European Parliament. However, many voters were increasingly supportive of anti-EU protest parties, which gained significant traction in France, the U.K. and Greece.
"The status quo prevails in Europe," explained Kathleen Brooks, a research director at FOREX.com. "Although the chorus of protest is growing louder, it is still a small force in the European Parliament."
Meanwhile, Ukrainians seem to be voting in favor of further integration with Europe. Billionaire Petro Poroshenko has declared himself the winner of the Ukrainian presidential elections after getting over 50% of the vote. The seasoned politician has been vocal about his pro-European Union views.
The growing popularity of "euroskeptic" parties on the far right and far left indicate a severe backlash against pan-European cooperation, European institutions and austerity measures. But this doesn't threaten to tear Europe apart.
"After four years of a wrenching euro crisis, pro-European mainstream parties ... will still have close to 70% of the seats in the EU parliament," said Berenberg chief economist, Holger Schmieding. "Although it will be more difficult to negotiate a trade deal with the U.S., European institutions can function well with that result."
In France, the far-right National Front party -- which has rallied against the EU and immigration -- won a historic victory with 25% of the French vote, beating out more moderate pro-EU parties that dominated the elections five years ago. In the previous European elections, the National Front garnered just 6% of the vote.
In the United Kingdom, an increasingly prominent protest party that has loudly voiced its desire to get out of the EU won roughly 28% of the votes.
In Greece, the far-left Syriza party won roughly 27% of the vote.
The success of these anti-EU fringe parties could make for noisier Parliament debates and could complicate the passing of EU laws and appointments to the EU executive.
They also threaten to destabilize pro-EU governments in some countries and weaken the resolve of others to stick to painful economic reforms. For example, in Belgium, the prime minister handed his government's resignation after Flemish separatists scored a big win. But the Belgian benchmark stock index rose 0.5%.
Brooks, the FOREX.com research director, suggests that the rise of the anti-EU parties may actually benefit Europe.
"The increase in the protest vote could be a good thing for the markets, as it could streamline the EU," she said. "The amount of red tape created by the EU can be negative for businesses, and thus markets, so anything that could reduce this influence is a good thing."