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The night of drama across the EU was capped by the Macron bombing

Via Paul Kirby and Laura Gozzi, BBC News in Brussels and Rome

EPA European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (3-L) and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder (C) hold hands at the end of the CDU and CSU's final campaigning for the European elections in Munich Germany, June 7, 2024.EPA

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen celebrates with the Bavarian Prime Minister in Germany

French President Emmanuel Macron has called a snap parliamentary election after being defeated by the far right in the European elections – in a dramatic night that saw the centre-right broadly tighten their grip on the with the EU Parliament.

Mr. Macron made an announcement after losing to rivals Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella and their National Rally party.

The French result was one of the big gains expected by Europe’s far-right parties, and the confirmation came from all the exit polls that gave the National Rally more than 30% of the vote , twice that of Mr. Macron’s centrist Renaissance party.

But beyond France, the broader story of Europe’s four-day voting marathon really belongs to the centre-right parties.

They consolidated their majority in the European Parliament, with victories in Germany, Greece, Poland And Spainand significant advances in Hungaryagainst long-dominant Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“The center is holding strong, but it is also true that the extremes on the left and right have receive support.

Ms von der Leyen said her centre-right group was “an anchor for stability”, but such an outcome required “great responsibility on the part of the center”.

The far right did not make the big waves across Europe as many had predicted.

inside Netherlands, the Freedom Party of anti-Muslim populist Geert Wilders came in second; and in Belgium The Vlaams Belang separatists lost to the nationalist New Flemish Union.

Europeans in 27 countries voted in this election to elect the next EU Parliament – with the majority of voting taking place on Sunday. The European Parliament is a direct link between Europeans and EU institutions.

Before the vote there was discussion that Ms. von der Leyen’s dominant European People’s Party might consider negotiating with two right-wing groups supporting the far right.

But she made clear that the EPP’s only allies would be the Socialists & Democrats and the liberal Renewal group which includes Mr Macron’s party.

While the centre-right has a commanding 184 seats in the 720-seat European Parliament, S&D has not lost ground and the centrists are still third, although the number of seats has dropped sharply.

. European Parliament graphic.

GermanyOpposition conservatives came out on top and they won an impressive 30% of the vote.

But for Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s SPD party, it was the worst result ever in a European election, coming in third behind the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). .

The head of the conservative CDU, Friedrich Merz, said it was a disaster for the three-party ruling coalition and he called for a change in tactics: “They are damaging our country with the kind of politics that they do.”

The AfD has suffered a series of scandals involving espionage, foreign interference and accusations of Nazi support, yet its support has remained.

“After all the prophecies of doom, after the beating of the last few weeks, we are the second strongest force,” said co-leader Alice Weidel. And I tell you, the only way is up.”

EPA Alice Weidel and AfD's Tino Chrupalla celebrate the pollEPA

AfD’s Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla celebrate the vote

National Rally (RN) EPA supporters celebrateEPA

Supporters of France’s nationwide protests react after President Macron’s decision to call parliamentary elections

Meanwhile, a new anti-migrant far-left party, BSW, led by Sahra Wagenknecht, also performed well – capping off a good night for progressive parties.

IN HungaryPeter Magyar, a former member of Viktor Orban’s government, has proven to be a dangerous opponent to his former ally, with a vote share of more than 30% just two months after the founding of his centre-right Tisza party. grandfather.

Mr Magyar told BBC Budapest’s Nick Thorpe that Hungarians were facing a new situation – “a new opposition party that could defeat this government at the next general election in Hungary.”

IN SpainThe centre-right opposition People’s Party (PP) defeated Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Party, but not by the large margin that PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo had hoped for.

The center-right leader said it was a “resounding election victory”, but the Socialist Party won 20 seats, just two less than the PP.

Another far-right party, Vox, came in third.

Meanwhile, in ItalyGiorgia Meloni continues to dominate her country’s politics.

Her Italian far-right brethren won 29% of the vote, beating Elly Schlein’s left-wing Democratic Party by nearly five points.

“Thank you to the Italians who continue to choose us… I am proud of tonight’s result,” she told her supporters.

And in Shirt, The far-right Freedom Party FPÖ is on course for a narrow but unprecedented victory in the European vote.

Reuters Giorgia Meloni speaks at an election night rallyReuters

Giorgia Meloni thanked Italians for “continuing to choose” her party

In just five years, Ms. Meloni has more than doubled her party’s number of seats in the European Parliament, while Ms. Schlein’s achievements surprised even party activists.

Belgium is holding national and regional elections as well as the European vote, and although the far right is expected to top the vote, it is the New Flemish Coalition that comes first, ending its rule. rule by liberal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

“The far right has performed poorly in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland and Poland. But it worked so well in France,” said Professor Alberto Alemanno of HEC Paris, who was surprised by President Macron’s decision to dissolve the parliament.

“It is disproportionate that these election results can push a government out of a country,” he told the BBC.

Although there are only a handful of centre-left governments in power in the EU, the Green Labor coalition in the Netherlands and the Socialist opposition in the Netherlands have scored victories. Portugal and there was an unexpected victory in Denmark for the opposition Green Left party, which came up against Mette Frederiksen’s ruling Social Democratic Party.

Denmark’s prime minister, recovering from a physical attack in Copenhagen on Friday, said while the right had made significant progress in Europe, “in Denmark we stand out”.

IN Slovakia Robert Fico’s ruling Smer party had been expected to win after the prime minister survived an assassination attempt.

Smer has campaigned against the EU’s policy of sending weapons to Ukraine and the EU’s Green Deal plans to tackle climate change.

But it lost to the liberal opposition Slovakia Progressive Party, whose president Michal Simecka said voters had sent Mr Fico’s government a clear message that it could not do anything. what they want.


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