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Europe swings right as centrist groups suffer heavy blow in parliamentary elections


Election staffers work at the Schwabenzentrum counting postal votes for the European elections in Stuttgart, Germany, June 9, 2024. /CFP
Election staffers work at the Schwabenzentrum counting postal votes for the European elections in Stuttgart, Germany, June 9, 2024. /CFP

Election staffers work at the Schwabenzentrum counting postal votes for the European elections in Stuttgart, Germany, June 9, 2024. /CFP

Right-wing groups are projected to secure substantial gains in the 2024 European Parliament (EP) election, diminishing the influence of centrist parties, according to preliminary estimate results released by the EP early Monday.

Over a four-day voting marathon, around 360 million citizens from EU member states cast their votes to elect 720 members for the 10th EP, the only directly elected body in the bloc.

This year's voter turnout hit a new high at 51 percent, slightly up from 50.66 percent in the 2019 election, according to estimates.

Early projections indicate a decisive victory for the center-right European People's Party (EPP), which is expected to secure 184 seats, eight more than in the last election five years ago, followed by the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats with 139 seats, while the centrist Renew Europe (RE) is projected to become the third-largest group with 80 seats.

The results signal a shift in the political landscape, with centrist parties losing seats and far-right groups making significant gains. Despite being the third-largest group in the parliament, the RE is expected to lose 22 seats compared to the 2019 election, while the Greens/European Free Alliance is projected to lose 19 seats.

Far-right parties saw a surge in support from major populous countries.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party, part of the RE group in the EU parliament, garnered 15.2 percent of the vote, trailing far behind the far-right National Rally, which received 31.8 percent.

Following this defeat, Macron announced the dissolution of the National Assembly on Sunday evening. "This is a serious, weighty decision. But it is above all an act of trust," he said, adding that the National Assembly elections will take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.

In Germany, the most populous nation in the EU, support for Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left Social Democrats fell to a projected 14.5 percent, equivalent to the extreme-right Alternative for Germany. The Greens, also a member of the German coalition government, faced a significant setback with 12.5 percent of the vote, a dramatic drop from a record 20.5 percent in 2019.

Tina Hassel, a political commentator on German television, said the EU was being challenged as never before from within.

"For the first time since forming a political party, these populists are strong and may influence the future course of policy. This could make it more difficult to reach compromises within the EU and may even lead to right-wing parties blocking progress."

In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party, part of the Identity and Democracy group in the EP, is projected to win the EP election for the first time, according to forecasts published by Austrian media when voting closed on Sunday.

To balance power, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed building a coalition with the Social Democrats and the pro-business Liberals.

"As of tomorrow, I will start building a broad coalition for a strong Europe," she said on X. "Together with others, we will build a bastion against the extremes on the right and on the left."

Speaking to reporters at the EP late Sunday, von der Leyen, who seeks to secure a second term, hailed the EPP's victory, calling the group "the anchor of stability."

Reflecting on the rise of the far-right and far-left, she emphasized the "great responsibility" for the parties in the center.

"We may differ on individual points, but we all have an interest in stability, and we all want a strong and effective Europe," she said.

Read more:

Macron calls snap election after defeat in European Parliament vote

Center-right EPP projected to remain largest party group in 2024 European election

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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