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In EU elections, the center holds, but the far right still wreaks havoc

The balloting indicates that the prevailing winds have grown chill for some of Europe’s political establishment and underscored that the momentum of the far-right forces that have been expanding their challenge to centrists over the past decade had yet to crest.
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 01:47 IST
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 01:47 IST

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Brussels: Voters across the European Union’s 27 members mostly backed centrists in the European Parliament elections, but handed important gains to far-right parties, steeling them as a disruptive force, ushering in a political earthquake in France and unsettling the bloc’s mainstream establishment.

Partial results made public late Sunday showed that centrist political groups were poised to face some losses, but still maintain a clear majority of more than 400 seats in the 720-seat assembly, with the conservatives marking a decisive victory. European Parliament groups that hold a nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda will likely control about 130 seats, a better showing than the last election in 2019.

The balloting indicates that the prevailing winds have grown chill for some of Europe’s political establishment and underscored that the momentum of the far-right forces that have been expanding their challenge to centrists over the past decade had yet to crest.

The projected outcome did not bode well for Europe’s centrist leaders and their parties, especially in France and Germany, the continent’s biggest powers, which are considered the engine of Europe’s experiment in pooling national sovereignty.

The results were especially crushing for President Emmanuel Macron of France, who soon afterward 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 nation and for Europe,” he warned.

The outcome may put Marine Le Pen, Macron’s main rival, in her strongest position yet to challenge the French mainstream in presidential elections three years from now. Macron must step aside then because of term limits.

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

Projections gave the party about 16% of the vote. The result placed AfD behind the mainstream conservative Christian Democratic Union, but ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, making it the country’s second-ranking party.

Right-wing parties now govern alone or as part of coalitions in seven of the European Union’s 27 countries.

The strong far-right showing was likely to reverberate even in the United States, where it can be expected to hearten kindred political forces loyal to former President Donald Trump as he seeks a return to office.

Final figures from all 27 EU countries were expected to be made public early Monday.

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Published 10 June 2024, 01:47 IST

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