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Jun 09

Right-Wing Parties Make Big Gains in EU Elections

| Published
Jun 09, 2024
| Updated
Jun 09, 2024
Right-Wing Parties Make Big Gains in EU Elections
French National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen (L) speaks as party President Jordan Bardella listens after the French president announced he is calling for new general elections on June 30, during the final day of the European Parliament election, at the Pavillon Chesnaie du Roy in Paris, on June 9, 2024. (Julien de Rosa/AFP via Getty Images)

Right-wing parties have gained ground at the European Parliament in election results that rattled the traditional powers.

French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise call for early legislative elections after his party suffered a heavy defeat from the right-wing National Rally party. In Germany, support for Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats sank to a projected 14 percent, behind the right-wing Alternative for Germany, which surged into second place.

Millions of Europeans voted for candidates to serve five-year terms in a new European Parliament, the legislative branch of the 27-member trade bloc. Provisional results from the voting that ended Sunday, as of 5:25 a.m. on Monday, showed the Christian Democrats would have 184 seats, up 8, the Social Democrats 139, no change, and the pro-business Renew group 80, down 22. The Greens slumped to 52, down 19.
Here’s the latest:

Initial Projections Indicate Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni’s Party Has Won Most Votes

Initial projections based on 18 percent of votes counted in Italy indicate Premier Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing Brothers of Italy party has won the largest percentage of votes in the European parliamentary elections.

The projection, released by public broadcaster RAI, puts Brothers of Italy as the most popular party with 28.5 percent of the vote, while the centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) was second with 23.7 percent.

The other main opposition party, the 5-Star Movement, won 10.5 percent, while Forza Italia, founded by late premier Silvio Berlusconi, was fourth with 10 percent, followed by the right-wing League at 8.3 percent.

Ms. Meloni went on social media platform X to comment on the positive results of her party on Sunday.

“GRAZIE!” she wrote, noting that her Brothers of Italy party has confirmed its status as the country’s leading political group, even improving on its results from the latest national elections in 2022.

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban’s Nationalist Party Appears Set to Take Most Votes

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s nationalist party appeared set to take the most votes in Sunday’s European Parliament elections.

With 55 percent of votes counted, Mr. Orbán’s Fidesz party stood at 43 percent of the vote, enough to send 11 delegates of Hungary’s 21 total seats in the European Union’s legislature.

While Fidesz took a plurality of votes, it was down nearly 10 percentage points from its support in 2019 EU elections and looked set to lose two seats.

Mr. Orbán’s challenger, Péter Magyar, who broke ranks with Orbán’s party in February, in a matter of months built up Hungary’s strongest opposition party. That party, Respect and Freedom (TISZA), stood at 31 percent of the vote Sunday, amounting to seven delegates to the European Parliament.

Spain’s Main Opposition Conservatives Pull Ahead of Governing Socialists

Spain’s leading opposition conservatives pulled ahead of the governing Socialists in the European Union’s parliamentary elections, with the right-wing making significant gains.

With 99 percent of votes counted, the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) had 34 percent of the votes, four percentage points more than the center-left Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. That translated into 22 seats for the conservatives, nine more than in the previous European election, and 20 for the Socialists.

Spain has the fourth largest number of parliamentary seats allocated in the EU’s assembly: 61 out of 720.

The results were a significant improvement for the PP conservatives, who had likened the European vote to a referendum on Mr. Sánchez’s administration.

Vox, the right-wing party that has become a governing ally of the conservatives in several Spanish regions and municipalities, increased its European MPs from four obtained in 2019 to six.

The Spanish right-wing secured three more seats in the new parliament with the surprising appearance of Se Acabó la Fiesta (The Party is Over), a new party led by a national-populist influencer known his pen-name, Alvise Pérez. Mr. Pérez presents himself as a crusader against corruption and identity politics.

Opposition Wins European Parliament Election in Czech Republic

The centrist opposition ANO (YES) movement led by former populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis has won the European Parliament election in the Czech Republic.

Mr. Babis defeated the center-right Together coalition that consists of three partners in the Czech governing coalition: the conservative Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Christian Democrats, and the liberal-conservative TOP 09 party.

ANO won 26 percent of the votes, for seven seats, while Together claimed 22 percent, for six seats.

The populist group Oath in a coalition with a group of car supporters rejecting the EU’s Green Deal and other policies was third with just over 10 percent and won two seats. The far-left coalition Enough got just under 10 percent and two seats.

In results for two other government parties, STAN, a group of mayors, gained nearly 9 percent and two seats, while the Pirate Party got just over 6 percent and one seat.

The Freedom and Direct Democracy, a local ally of French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen, received just under 6 percent and won one seat.

Dutch Results Confirm Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom Is Biggest Winner

Near complete Dutch results confirmed Sunday night that Geert Wilders’s right-wing Party for Freedom was the biggest winner in elections for the European Union parliament.

Mr. Wilders’s party won six seats, up from one in the last European parliament, according to a near complete count of the Dutch vote, national broadcaster NOS reported. That is one seat less than projected by an exit poll after the Dutch voted Thursday.

That one seat difference did not dampen Wilders’s delight. “Still the very biggest winner with five more seats!” he wrote on social media platform X.

The pro-European alliance of the social-democratic Labour Party and Green Left won the most seats, with eight—one less than in the last parliament.

Mr. Wilders swept to a big victory in national elections six months ago and is in the driving seat during protracted talks with three other parties on forming a governing coalition.

Opposition Party Claims Victory in Slovakia

The major opposition Progressive Slovakia has claimed victory in the European Parliament elections in Sloakia, topping the leftist Smer (Direction) party of populist Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The vote took place just weeks after Mr. Fico survived an assassination attempt.

Progressive Slovakia, a liberal and pro-Western group, won 27.8 percent of the vote, for six parliamentary seats.

Smer, which refuses to send any arms to Ukraine to face Russia’s invasion and is critical of mainstream European policies, followed with 24.8 percent, for five seats.

A right-wing opposition party, the Republic, finished third with 12.5 percent and will have two seats.

Hlas (the Voice), another leftist party in the government coalition, received 7.2 percent, and the conservative opposition Christian Democrats won 7.1 percent, giving them one seat each.

The third party in Mr. Fico’s coalition, the nationalist Slovak National Party, failed to win a seat.

Turnout was a record 34.4 percent.

Voting Officially Ends as Last Polling Stations in Italy Close

The last polling stations have closed in Italy, officially ending voting across Europe in the EU’s parliamentary election.
Italian polling stations closed at 11 p.m. local time (2100GMT), officially ending a marathon election spanning four days across 27 bloc member countries.

France’s Le Pen: ‘Ready to Turn the Country Around’

Marine Le Pen, of France’s National Rally party, says she is “ready to turn the country around” after dealing a heavy blow to President Macron in the EU parliamentary election.

“We’re ready for it. After the legislative elections of 2022, which designated the National Rally Party as the main parliamentary opponent, these European elections confirm our movement as the major force for change in France,” she told supporters in Paris.

“We are ready to exercise power if the French people place their trust in us in these future legislative elections. We’re ready to turn the country around, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority,” she said.

Near Complete Results in Greece Show Governing Party in Comfortable Win

Near complete results in Greece show the governing center-right New Democracy party comfortably ahead in the EU Parliamentary election with just under 28 percent of the vote, but with a poorer showing than the 33 percent it won in the previous election which the party leadership had set as a bar for Sunday’s poll.

Results from 95 percent of polling precincts showed that the left-wing main opposition SYRIZA also lost ground, polling just below 15 percent, down from nearly 24 percent in 2019. Socialist PASOK scored just under 13 percent, up from nearly 8 percent. Populist Greek Solution, which also saw a rise in its popularity to 9.5 percent from 4 percent, is the largest of three right-wing parties to send representatives to the European Parliament, alongside Niki with 4 percent and Voice of Reason with 3 percent.

The Communist Party also increased its score, as did catch-all, nominally leftist Passage to Freedom.

New Democracy wins seven of Greece’s allotted seats in the 720-member assembly, one less than in 2019. SYRIZA elects four, two fewer than last time. PASOK gains a seat, as does Greek Solution, which now have three and two Euro-MPs respectively. The Communists keep their two seats, while newcomers Niki, Passage to Freedom, and Voice of Reason have one each.

Elam Party Clinches One of Six EU Parliament Seats Allotted to Cyprus

The state broadcaster of Cyprus says near-complete results show the right-wing ELAM party has managed to clinch one of six seats allotted to the country in the European Parliament.

It’s the first time that the party, founded in 2008, has earned a seat in the European Parliament. ELAM’s position against large numbers of migrants who have reached Cyprus in recent years has increasingly resonated with voters and have given the party a steady rise in support.

With almost 85 percent of the vote counted, ELAM has garnered just over 11 percent, the state broadcaster said.

ELAM President Christos Christou said Sunday that ELAM will seek to be inducted into the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Party headed by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Mr. Christou said his party’s policy focus in the European Parliament will be the migration issue and to seek a deal remedying Cyprus’ half-century-old ethnic division.

Polish Prime Minister Tusk Declares Victory

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has declared victory after an exit poll showed a decisive victory for his centrist pro-EU party.

The exit poll by Ipsos showed more than 38 percent of votes going to his Civic Coalition. According to the poll, the result was a disappointing showing for Law and Justice, the national conservative party that governed Poland from 2015–2023. The poll showed it with nearly 34 percent.

The right-wing Confederation party was in third place in the exit poll, winning nearly 12 percent for a strong showing.

Cypriot Influencer With No Political Experience Appears Set to Win EU Parliament Seat

A popular YouTuber has stunned Cyprus’ political world by appearing to wrest one of six seats allotted to the island nation in the European Parliament from traditional political powerhouses.

With more than three quarters of votes counted, unofficial results show Fidias Panayiotou clinching almost 20 percent of votes, about 2 percentage points behind the communist-rooted AKEL party in second and 4 percentage points behind the center-right Democratic Rally Party.

Although opinion polls have consistently showed Mr. Panayiotou garnering high numbers, no one expected him to crush to this degree much of the country’s political establishment solely through his social media fame after a mere two-month campaign in which he essentially offered no political positions.

In his first remarks after polls closed and initial results showed him steadily in third place, Fidias, who goes only by his first name, said a “miracle” had been achieved, conceding that he himself didn’t believe he would pull in such numbers.

“Today is a historic day not only for Cyprus, but maybe for the world,” Fidias said. “This could be the first time that a completely independent candidate who doesn’t have even an inkling of support from a political party, has managed to get elected, with social media being his only weapon.”

He spoke of the opening of a “new chapter in the book of democracy” in which citizens are more empowered and chastised representatives of political parties by suggesting voters have turned their backs on them and their self-serving ways.

Analysts said Fidias drew his votes primarily from the 18–39 age bracket, but managed to get a respectable percentage from older voters, in what appeared to be people opting to turn up their noses to the clientelist-driven political party machinery.

Fidias shot to fame in a video a few years ago when he managed to get a hug from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. Since then, he has posted countless videos, at least one of which landed him in hot water for hitching free rides on Japanese public transport as part of a race across the country. He later apologized for doing so.

Fidias held an impromptu party in the Cypriot capital’s main Eleftheria Square to celebrate his victory.

Macron Calls Snap Legislative Election After Defeat in EU Vote

French President Macron says he is dissolving the National Assembly and calling a snap legislative election after his party suffered a heavy defeat in elections for the European Parliament.

In an address to the nation from the Elysee presidential palace, Mr. Macron said: “I’ve decided to give you back the choice of our parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly.” The vote will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7, he said.

The move comes as first projected results from France on Sunday put the right-wing National Rally party well ahead in the European Union’s parliamentary election, defeating Macron’s pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

First Projection by EU Suggests Right-Wing Parties Made Big Gains

Right-wing parties have made big gains at the European Parliament elections as the Greens took a major hit, according to a first projection provided by the EU.

The estimates aggregated by the EU Parliament are based on exit polls or other survey data, along with projections that may include some partial election returns.

The two mainstream and pro-European groups, the conservatives and the socialists, lost a few seats but remained the dominant forces. The Greens are expected to lose about 20 seats.

First Projected Results From France Put National Rally Party Well Ahead

The first projected results from France are putting the right-wing National Rally party well ahead in the EU elections, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Marine Le Pen’s nationalist party is estimated to get around 31–32 percent of the vote, more than twice the score of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-European centrist party that is projected to reach around 15 percent.

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament.

Croatia Exit Polls Project Governing Conservatives to Win Most Votes

Exit polls in Croatia project the ruling conservatives to win the most votes in the EU election, followed by the main center-left opposition party. A newcomer right-wing party also won a seat for the first time.

The Croatian Democratic Union of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic won 33.7 percent of the vote, or six seats, while the Social Democratic Party won 27.8 percent, or four seats, according to the exit poll conducted by Ipsos polling agency and broadcast by the state HRT television.

The report said that right-wing Homeland Movement won 8.6 percent, or one seat. The party is part of the coalition government in Croatia after emerging as kingmaker at a recent parliamentary election. The Liberal We Can group won 5.4 percent, which is also one seat.

Low Turnout in Greece, None of 3 Main Parties Seem to Have Reached Their Goals

In Greece, none of the big three parties have reached their stated goals in Sunday’s election for the European Parliament, but all may find a silver lining in them.

What is beyond dispute is the very low turnout: with more than 40 percent of the vote counted, turnout is 39 percent, nearly 20 percentage points below that of the last European election, in May 2019.

The ruling center-right New Democracy had hoped to match its 2019 result of 33 percent. So far, it is polling at 27.6 percent, still far ahead of main opposition SYRIZA with nearly 15 percent and the socialist PASOK at just over 13 percent.

SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis had hoped for at least 20 percent of vote share or, at least, to match the 17.8 percent obtained by the party in last year’s second national election. PASOK had hoped to overtake SYRIZA for second place, as opinion polls seemed to show last year. But if results hold, its margin with SYRIZA will be less than shown in recent opinion surveys.

Right-wing parties increased their share of the vote, even as one of them, the Spartans, was barred from contesting the election: Greek Solution is so far getting nearly 10 percent of the vote, Niki at just over 4 percent, and Voice of Reason at 3 percent, the threshold required to elect a European Deputy.

The Communist Party is getting 9 percent, up from 5 percent in 2019.

Exit Polls Indicate Party of Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Is Likely Winner

Exit polls in Bulgaria indicate the GERB center-right party of three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is the likely winner of the country’s parliamentary vote as well as the election for European Parliament.

The exit poll conducted by Gallup International showed the GERB party with 26 percent, apparently edging out the reformist coalition between the We Continue the Change party and the right-wing Democratic Bulgaria by a margin of over 10 percentage points in both votes.

Projections show a record-low voter turnout. Initial results are expected on Monday, but it could take days before the final official results are announced.

If final results confirm indications from the exit poll, Mr. Borissov will be handed a mandate to form his fourth cabinet, though he could face an uphill task in finding allies to form a governing coalition in a fragmented parliament.

The nationalist Vazrazhdane party, a strong opposition to any actions against Putin’s Russia, is seen as widening its parliamentary presence at home to 15 percent and for the first time is also expected to send at least three representatives to the European Parliament.

Pro-EU Parties Expected to Hold Majority

The first national estimates from five EU countries provided by the European Parliament suggest mainstream and pro-European parties should retain their majority in next legislature.

The estimates aggregated by the EU parliament were based on exit polls or other survey data from Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands.

The Socialists, Liberals, Greens, and Conservatives put on a strong showing, although they’re expected to lose seats to right-wing parties such as those led by Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and Marine Le Pen in France.

Von der Leyen Congratulates Her German Party

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has congratulated her German party, the Christian Democratic Union, on its result in the election after exit polls showed that it was the biggest vote-getter.

“You know that we in Europe still have to wait several hours, but what you have already set as a trend is all the better—strongest force, stable, in difficult times and by a distance,” she told supporters by video link from Brussels.

“Now we have to replicate this in Europe, but I am confident that we will succeed this evening,” she said.

Exit Polls Point to Gains for Germany’s Right Wing

Exit polls pointed to very weak results for Germany’s governing parties and gains for the right-wing Alternative for Germany in Sunday’s vote for the European Parliament, while the mainstream conservative opposition was set to remain the country’s strongest political force in the legislature.

The polls for ARD and ZDF public television showed support for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats at 14 percent, below the 15.8 percent they managed in 2019 and far below their showing in Germany’s last national election in 2021.

The environmentalist Greens, the second-biggest party in Mr. Scholz’s coalition, fell from a successful 20.5 percent five years ago to around 12 percent, according to the exit polls. Support for the pro-business Free Democrats, the third party in the quarrelsome and unpopular government, was seen at 5 percent.

The exit polls gave a clear lead to the center-right Union bloc, now the main opposition force, putting its support at around 30 percent. That’s in line with its 2019 result and better than its showing in the last national election.

Alternative for Germany, or AfD, was seen winning up to 16.5 percent of the vote. That’s better than 11 percent in 2019 but still some way short of its poll ratings several months ago. The party has seen a string of setbacks this year, including scandals surrounding its two lead candidates for the European Parliament.

Belgium Looking Into Reports of Irregularities by Teen Voters

Some underage voters in Belgium who were only allowed to cast their ballot in the European elections might have also voted in regional and federal elections they were not entitled to take part in, according to the country’s interior minister.

Belgian voters were electing a new federal parliament but also regional parliaments and members of the European Parliament. Teenagers aged 16 and 17 were allowed to vote in the European elections, but Belgian citizens must be at least 18 to vote in the other elections.

Following reports in local media Sunday that people under 18 voted in all three elections, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden told regional broadcaster VRT that “the errors appeared to have been limited” and that any complaints will be investigated.

“For the time being I presume that the impact has been limited. We will continue with these elections,” she said.

Low Turnout in Spain

Some 38 million Spaniards are eligible to vote Sunday to elect 61 members of the 720-seat European Parliament, with the conservative opposition and the ruling Socialists expected to get the most seats.

Antonio García Escolar, a producer and screenwriter from Madrid, remarked on voter apathy, something he blamed on misinformation. “We have fallen into a widespread yawn,“ he said. ”We are asleep, because we prefer reading a headline or what a YouTuber tells us and we don’t seek truthful information.”

García Escolar did not disclose who he voted for but said his vote was “against fascism.”

“Fascism is not something that one learns in school, it is something that is dormant and that is inside all of us, that only awakens when fear is stirred,” he said.

Ana Cabanas, a lawyer from Madrid, said the economy and the agricultural policies that are decided in Brussels were some of the main topics that drove her to vote.

“I still believe in Europe and I want to have a say in matters that affect Spanish legislation and that are decided in Europe,” Ms. Cabanas said.

French Voters Concerned About Migration, Wars

Migration has been one of the most important issues to French voters, and the party of right-wing leader Marine Le Pen is hoping for a strong showing against the party of President Emmanuel Macron.

Jordan Bardella, Le Pen’s 28-year-old protege and the current president of the right-wing National Rally, gave strong performances in debates ahead of this weekend’s election, something that could help Ms. Le Pen as she is expected to run for the French presidency in 2027.

Mr. Bardella has fiercely opposed the EU Asylum and Migration Pact, a plan backed by Mr. Macron that seeks to share the management of irregular migrant arrivals among EU nations.

French voters are also focused on the war in Ukraine and Gaza.

“Today, in the context of a war in Ukraine and the Middle East, there’s a different dimension than the national one,” said Francois Tivolle, who cast his ballot in Paris’s 11th district.

German Chancellor Faces First National Test Since Taking Office

The European Parliament election gives political parties in Germany their first nationwide test since Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government took office at the end of 2021.

Pre-election surveys suggested that the mainstream conservative opposition, the Union bloc, can expect to remain Germany’s strongest force in the EU legislature. They predict weak results for the three parties in Mr. Scholz’s governing coalition, which has become very unpopular.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany can expect gains from the 11 percent of the vote it won in 2019.

Germany elects 96 of the 720 lawmakers who will make up Europe’s new Parliament, the biggest single share.

Poland Votes With War in Ukraine, Migration in Focus

Poles are voting at a time of great insecurity for the nation, which is located along the eastern flank of both the European Union and NATO.

The war just across the border in Ukraine has created fears that if Russia were to prevail, Poland and neighboring nations that were once under Moscow’s control could be targeted next.

A migration crisis is also playing out along another stretch of the eastern border with Belarus. Poland accuses Belarus and Russia of luring large numbers of migrants to the border to create instability. The crisis has been deadly, with a migrant recently fatally stabbing a Polish soldier. Dozens of migrants, if not more, have also died in the swampy forest area since 2021.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has stressed national security, promising to strengthen border controls as he seeks a good showing for his pro-EU party.

On the minds of some Poles is the nature of the EU itself. In a nation under foreign rule for long spans in the past, some Poles fear that the 27-member bloc is taking away too much power from individual nations.

“We know that the European Union is in crisis, so maybe our elections will change something in the decision-making and efficiency of this body,” said Anna Grzegorczyk-Łuczak, a 60-year-old architect who voted early in Warsaw. She would not say which party she voted for.

Bulgarians Cast Ballots for New Parliament and in EU Elections

Bulgarians are choosing a new parliament on Sunday while also participating in European Union elections.

It was Bulgaria’s sixth parliamentary election in three years. There were worries that voter fatigue and wide disillusionment with politicians who do not fulfill promises to fight corruption and introduce reforms could result in a low turnout and another fragmented parliament.

Preliminary results are expected Monday in the voting for the 240 seats in the National Assembly and for 17 members in the European Parliament.

The front-runners in the National Assembly elections were seen as the GERB party led by three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the reformist coalition We Continue the Change–Democratic Bulgaria.

After running neck-and-neck in last July’s election, the two rival groups sought to break the political stalemate by forming an uneasy governing coalition, but it survived only nine months.

Exit Polls

In the Netherlands, exit polls from June 6 showed nationalist Geert Wilders’s party on track to win seven of the 29 Dutch seats in the EU assembly, from zero in 2019, following up on his large win in last year’s national election.

His Freedom Party will be just one short of the combined seats of a Socialist Democrat-Greens alliance.

In Belgium, voters will also get to elect federal and regional chambers and are forecast to back the right-wing Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang in record numbers, although it could still be kept from office by other parties.

The government of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will likely remain in office in a caretaker capacity for many months until a new multi-party coalition is formed.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.