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In the EU elections, the Centers held firm, but the far right still caused havoc

Voting in 27 countries, voters largely backed centrists in European Parliament elections, but far-right parties have made serious inroads in France and Germany.

Partial results announced late Sunday showed centrist political groups at risk of losing some seats, but maintaining a clear majority of more than 400 seats in the 720-seat parliament.

Even so, the outcome appears likely to make the far right a disruptive force and upset the bloc’s mainstream foundations.

The vote points out that the prevailing winds have turned cold for some of Europe’s political establishment and highlights that the momentum of far-right forces over the past decade has yet to reach its peak. .

In France, the vote unleashed a political earthquake. Immediately after the results were announced, President Emmanuel Macron announced on national television that he would dissolve the country’s National Assembly and call for new legislative elections.

“The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our country and for Europe,” he warned.

This result could put Marine Le Pen, Mr. Macron’s main rival, in the strongest position to challenge the French mainstream in the presidential election three years from now. At that time, Mr. Macron had to step aside because of term limits.

The far-right party Alternative for Germany, or AfD, officially labeled by German authorities as a “suspected” extremist group, also made a strong showing.

The projections gave the party about 16% of the vote. As a result, the AfD ranked behind the mainstream conservative Christian Democratic Union, but ahead of Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, making it the country’s second-ranked party.

European Parliament groups with a nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda will now likely control around 130 seats, a better result than in the last election in 2019.

Right-wing parties now govern alone or as part of coalitions in seven of the 27 European Union countries. They have made gains across the continent as voters increasingly focus on nationalism and identity, often tied to migration and some of the similar culture war politics involved. Gender and LGBTQ issues have gained attention in the United States.

The far right’s strong showing is likely to resonate even in the United States, where it is expected to galvanize close political forces loyal to former President Donald J. Trump as he seeks way to return to office.

Other factors contributing to the rise of the right include lingering anger over Covid-era policies, as well as rising inflation in the wake of the pandemic and the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, which has turned Europe Turn your back on cheap Russian energy.

The election exposed the real weaknesses of the governments of France and Germany, core members of the EU. Traditionally, little could have happened in the bloc without their leadership.

“With Trump looming and a major war in Europe, there is a serious question as to how Europe will be able to cope,” said Mujtaba Rahman, European Director of the European Union. how to respond to these threats in the face of French and German weakness at home. Consulting of Eurasia Group.

European Union leaders have eased environmental policies and overhauled the bloc’s migration policies to address concerns among traditional conservatives and more right-wing voters. But the electoral success of more radical right-wing parties could lead to still tighter borders and a scaling back of the EU’s climate ambitions.

Despite the gains of the far right, the mainstream conservative group in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party, remained in first place and made significant gains, with 189 seats, 13 more than compared to the last election. But the two remaining centrist parties have suffered, eroding the political center at the European level.

The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats came second with 135 seats, losing four seats. And Renew, a liberal political group, risks losing a fifth of its seats, ending up with 83 seats.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission and a member of the European conservatives, celebrated her party’s victory and made an open call to other moderates to join. work with her to ensure “a strong and effective Europe”.

“We are the anchor of stability,” Ms. von der Leyen told reporters at the European Parliament in Brussels on Sunday night. “Results come with great responsibility on the part of the center,” she said. We may differ on particular points, but we all care about stability.”

The biggest losers in the election appear to be the Green Party, who saw their support drop by a quarter compared to five years ago. However, the Green Party, with 53 seats, could play an important role in consolidating a majority of centrist parties as an alternative to far-right parties.

Final figures from all 27 EU countries are expected to be published early on Monday.

The outcome appears to largely maintain a balance of power in the European Parliament, which approves the bloc’s laws, budget, and top leaders, including the president of the powerful European Commission. , the EU’s executive branch.

The first test for the weaker center majority will be passing approval by the new president of the European Commission, expected in July.

Ms von der Leyen, who was approved for her job five years ago by a narrow margin of just nine votes and is likely to be re-nominated, will need to lobby hard to secure her nomination. appoint.

Having narrowly avoided having to get radical right-wing parties behind her, a scenario that would have alienated centrists, she may now face demands for commitments more moderate policy on climate, especially from the Socialist and Liberal parties for which she will need votes. secure a second term under the leadership of the Commission.

Her agreement with potential centrist partners on migration and Ukraine would help the process move more smoothly.

A simple majority vote is required to ratify the European Commission president, but it is done in secret, a factor that has previously led to the attrition of those believed to be donate.

Aurelien Breeden Contributing reports from Paris.


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