European Parliament elections: The rise of the far right, but the center remains resilient


Far-right parties It is expected to win a record number of seats in European ParliamentIt is an outcome that, if confirmed, would deliver a stinging rebuke to the political mainstream in Brussels and add uncertainty to the future direction of Europe.

after Three days of voting Across the 27 EU member states, an opinion poll showed that far-right parties are expected to win around 150 of the 720 seats in Parliament, which is likely to make it difficult for the main parties to form the majority needed to pass the vote. Laws.

In a speech late on Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the results showed that her European People’s Party – which is expected to get the largest number of seats – can still act as an “anchor of stability”, but called for… Its political allies need to help protect against extremist parties.

“The center is holding out. But it is also true that the extremists on the left and right have received support, and that is why the result comes with a great responsibility for the center parties.”

The full results will emerge on Monday, when the coalition-building process begins as Europe’s centrists seek to put aside their differences to overcome the rise of the far right.

Most of the far-right’s gains were concentrated in countries that elect large numbers of seats: France, Italy, and Germany.

After an opinion poll showed that the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen would defeat its candidates. Emmanuel Macron He dissolved his parliament and called for risky early elections, with the first round to be held on June 30.

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Preliminary results showed that the National Front party received 31.5% of the votes, more than double the share of the Ennahda party led by Macron, which ranked second with 15.2% of the votes, directly ahead of the Socialists, who ranked third with 14.3%.

In a celebratory speech at the National Front party headquarters before Macron’s shock announcement, party leader Jordan Bardella said that “the unprecedented defeat of the current government marks the end of the cycle, and the first day of the post-Macron era.”

Stephane Limoton/SIPA/AP

Macron and First Lady Brigitte Macron at the Touquet polling station, for the European elections, June 9, 2024.

Like Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also took a beating in the polls, with the Social Democrats recording their worst ever result of 14%, while the mainstream Christian Democrats came out on top with 29.5% of the vote. The far-right Alternative for Germany party came in second place with 16.5%.

While the results will shape the political direction of the EU over the next five years, this set of national elections is often seen as a de facto referendum on existing local governments, which could cause problems for Macron in the 2027 French presidential election and for Scholz. In the German federal elections next year.

Much has changed in Europe since the last parliamentary elections in 2019, after Britain left the bloc in 2020 and Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, putting much of the continent on a war footing as it sought to send much-needed supplies to Kiev and the countries. Members. They strengthened their own defenses.

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He added: “Of course, these elections do not take place in a vacuum. The world around us is in turmoil. Von der Leyen said that forces from outside and within are trying to destabilize our societies and are trying to weaken Europe.

Annegret Hales/Reuters

AfD co-leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Shrubala cheer for exit ballots from polling stations in Berlin, Germany, on June 9, 2024.

While the rise of the far-right may further complicate Brussels’ efforts at unity, the far-right parties themselves remain relatively divided. The AfD is politically homeless: It has been removed from the far-right Identity and Democracy party after its main European candidate, Maximilian Krah, said he did not consider all members of the Nazi group (SS) to be criminals. Several other far-right parties belong to the Non-Aligned Group, which is expected to win 45 seats.

In response to the exit poll, Roberta Mitsola, President of the European Parliament, said the results showed that the political establishment in Brussels needed to “understand how people vote” and make decisions that “have an impact on citizens’ daily lives.”

“We can see that the constructive pro-European center has held up,” she added, but stressed that there was still a “responsibility on groups to come together to form a majority.”

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