The Latest | Election shifts the European Parliament further right – Metro US

The Latest | Election shifts the European Parliament further right

APTOPIX European Election Denmark
People cheer at the first exit poll at the Socialist People’s Party for the election to the European Parliament at Christiansborg in Copenhagen, Sunday, June 9, 2024. (Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

Far-right parties made big gains in the European Parliament in election results that rattled the traditional powers and made French President Emmanuel Macron call snap legislative elections.

Macron’s party suffered a heavy defeat from the far-right National Rally party, while in Germany support for Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats sank to a projected 14%, behind the extreme-right 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 showed the Christian Democrats would have 189 seats, up 13, the Social Democrats 135, down 4 and the pro-business Renew group 83, down 19. The Greens slumped to 53, down 18.


— France’s Macron calls a snap election after heavy defeat

Italy’s Meloni will welcome the G7 summit fortified by an EU vote that shook French, German leaders

— Far-right Alternative for Germany make gains

— Poland’s centrist premier Tusk is strengthened by EU election win

Orbán’s party takes most votes, but challenger scores big win

— Complex coalition talks loom after Belgium’s federal election

Bulgaria’s center-right party leads in both national and European elections

— What happened in some of the key races

Here’s the latest:

BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has acknowledged the dismal performance of the three governing parties that are part of his center-left government and added that the success of the far-right in the European election in Germany and other European countries was worrisome.

“The election result was bad for all three governing parties. No one is well advised to simply go back to business as usual,” Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

“At the same time, however, it is also important that we do our work, ensure that our country becomes modern, that it moves forward and, incidentally, prepare for the fact that approval will continue to grow so that the results of this work can also be put to the vote at the next general election and the citizens have confidence in the work,” the chancellor added.

The next national election in Germany is expected to take place next year in the fall, and Scholz’ government on Monday rejected calls by the far-right Alternative of Germany party, or AfD, that it should call for early elections like France.

Asked about the rise of the AfD, which took 15.9% and finished as second-strongest party in Germany after the center-right Christian Democrats, who are currently in the opposition, Scholz said that nobody should ever get used to the far-right parties in Europe.

“It must always be our mission to push them back and ensure that there are clear, clear majorities for the parties that have made a clear commitment to our democracy, to the rule of law, to what still defines us as a European Union, and also represent this,” Scholz vowed.

Despite the rise of far-right populist parties, Scholz pointed out that “there is a clear majority in Europe for parties that are traditionally committed to democracy and the rule of law.”

“The European Parliament also reflects this, and this is also the basis for the work that lies ahead in Europe over the next five years,” the chancellor added.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Monday harshly criticized the elections to the European Parliament as allegedly being conducted improperly and biased against Russia.

“We are forced to state that the European elections were held under conditions of severe restrictions, the absence of fair competition, the clearing of the information field from alternative sources of information and an unbridled anti-Russian campaign,” she said.

She claimed that the parties in Europe opposed to Russia’s war in Ukraine were pressured and harassed.

“Political forces opposing the thoughtless confrontation with Russia, which is damaging to the European Union itself, were subjected to discrimination, and often to direct pressure and harassment,” Zakharova said in a statement.

“As a result of the elections for the European Parliament, the ‘ideological basis’ for further support of the current self-destructive political course of the EU based on Russophobia was generally preserved,” she said.

MADRID — The leader of Spain’s left-wing Sumar (“Joining Forces”) has stepped down following her party’s poor showing in the European Parliament elections. Yolanda Díaz made the announcement the day after Sumar won just three of the 61 seats going to Spanish lawmakers.

Díaz said she will continue as Spain’s labor minister and as a deputy prime minister of the nation’s left-wing government, where Sumar is the junior member of the Socialist-led coalition.

Sumar only got 4% of the vote, or some 800,000 ballots, and just a handful more than a new platform launched by a far-right social media influencer.

Díaz helped found Sumar in March 2023 to regroup and rebrand anti-austerity progressive parties. But Sumar suffered from the splintering with the Podemos (“We Can”) Party. On Sunday, Sumar and Podemos combined for five seats, one seat less than in 2019’s EU elections when they ran under one ticket.

BERLIN — The far-right Alternative for Germany party, which finished second in European Parliament elections, called for a new national vote Monday after the parties in the country’s unpopular governing coalition sank to dismal results.

“People are fed up” with the current government, AfD’s Alice Weidel said during a news conference with the other party leader, Tino Chrupalla.

The government has rejected calls for an early election and says the vote would take place as planned next year in the fall.

Weidel and Chrupalla credited their party’s success to understanding voters’ worries like migration, the war in Ukraine, or the party’s opposition to climate friendly regulations. The AfD has been exploiting fears over migration by lobbying for tough rules and quick deportations of those who don’t qualify for asylum.

Despite the AfD’s increase in votes, the party is still some way short of its poll ratings at the beginning of the year. The party has seen a string of setbacks since then, including scandals surrounding its two lead candidates for the European Parliament.

BERLIN — Ursula von der Leyen says she will speak to socialists and liberals in the European Parliament as she seeks a second term as president of the European Union’s executive branch, but isn’t saying who else she will or won’t seek a deal with.

Von der Leyen’s center-right European People’s Party defended its position as the Parliament’s strongest group in Sunday’s election. But it is far short of a majority, and von der Leyen needs both a nomination by national leaders and approval by a majority in the legislature for another five-year term at the helm of the European Commission.

Von der Leyen said Monday that “the center held” in the election and that her conservatives will first approach the socialist and liberal groups that largely backed her over the past five years. She stressed the need for “a broad majority for a strong Europe” and added that “we will and can form a bastion against the extremes of left and right together.”

She added that “as you know of first steps, others can follow,” but wouldn’t be drawn on who else she might speak to.

During the election campaign, center-left politicians in her native Germany warned von der Leyen against seeking the support of hard-right groups such as Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni’s party.

Friedrich Merz, the leader of von der Leyen’s German party, the Christian Democratic Union, said that “the election losers don’t get to dictate conditions to us, who we speak to and who we don’t speak to.”

BERLIN — The top candidate for Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany party, which finished second in the European election with 15.9% of the votes, will not be part of the future delegation to the European Parliament.

Maximilian Krah announced on X that the newly elected lawmakers from the party voted to exclude him at a meeting Monday.

“I think this is wrong and sends a devastating signal to our voters, especially our young voters,” Krah said.

Krah was already banned from campaigning ahead of the European election after a series of scandals.

He was under scrutiny after authorities in Brussels searched his offices at the European Parliament in connection with an assistant who was arrested last month on suspicion of spying for China.

All AfD lawmakers were then expelled from the right-wing Identity and Democracy group in the European Parliament after Krah told an Italian newspaper that not all members of the Nazis’ elite SS unit were war criminals.

PARIS — France’s foreign minister said Monday that President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call snap elections after the far right’s triumph in the European elections was not “a poker move” but “a bet on confidence in the French people.”

Stéphane Séjourné said Macron did not take lightly the decision to dissolve the lower house of parliament and call for early elections, which are to start with a first round on June 30 and a second round on July 7.

He said the president’s coalition partners are now discussing election plans internally while also seeking cooperation with “reasonable people” on the left and right. The aim of the moderate forces is to win, he said.

But it’s the French people who will decide “on the economic and political future of France and its role in world,” Séjourné said in an interview with public broadcaster France Info on Monday.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Greens and left-leaning parties emerged as winners in the three Nordic EU members, underlying how environmental issues remain a focus of concern for many in that region.

Sweden, Denmark and Finland defied a trend seen across much of the EU in which far-right parties surged due to concerns over migration.

In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats, who have been gaining support for years and became the second-largest party in 2022 national elections, came in fourth place on Sunday.

Christine Nissen, an analyst with the Copenhagen based think tank Europa, said Monday that security remains the top issue for voters in the Nordics, followed by climate and the green transition.

Many traditional parties in past years have adopted tough stances on migration.

In Denmark, pro-European Union parties prevailed, with the climate-friendly Socialist People’s Party making the largest gains. They were followed by the Social Democrats and the Liberals, which are both in the government.

In Finland, the governing conservative National Coalition Party garnered the most votes, nearly 25%. However, the Left Alliance made gains and the populist Finns Party lost its share compared to the last EU election, getting just 6%.

PARIS — The president of France’s lower house of parliament says the president was not forced to dismiss the National Assembly but did so to show he was responsive to voters.

President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the legislature and called a snap election Sunday night after his party was handed a humbling defeat by the far-right in the European elections.

“There were other paths,” said Yaël Braun-Pivet, who has presided over the National Assembly since last the legislative elections in June 2022. But, Braun-Pivet, a member of Macron’s Renaissance party, said the president acted swiftly to “face reality” and to show that he has heard the voters’ message.

“We are told too often that we do not hear, that we are cut off from the people, and there, the president took a decision following a very clear vote by the French,” Braun-Pivet said in an interview with French public broadcaster on Monday.

VIENNA – Austria’s far-right Freedom Party is celebrating a narrow win in the European Parliament election as the country looks forward to a national vote expected in September.

The Freedom Party took 25.7% of the vote on Sunday, finishing in first place in a nationwide election for the first time. It was followed by Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s conservative Austrian People’s Party with 24.7% and the center-left opposition Social Democrats with 23.2%. The Greens, Nehammer’s junior coalition partners, took 10.7% of the vote.

Freedom Party leader Herbert Kickl said in a statement that “this election result means nothing less than that Austrians have made history today.” He said the party will continue to work to take the chancellor’s job later this year.

Nehammer acknowledged that there is “great dissatisfaction,” the Austria Press Agency reported. He vowed that his party will convince voters it takes their concerns seriously over the coming months by acting against irregular migration and overregulation.

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – The right-wing opposition Slovenian Democratic Party has won the most votes in the EU election in Slovenia, dealing a blow to the ruling liberal Freedom Movement of Prime Minister Robert Golob.

The opposition SDS won 30.8%, or four out of Slovenia’s nine parliamentary seats, while Golob’s party won 22.1%, or two mandates, according to the election authorities. The remaining three seats went to smaller parties.

SDS leader Janez Jansa, a staunchly anti-immigrant ally of Hungary’s hard-line Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, urged the ruling coalition to dissolve parliament and call a snap election.

Golob, however, said he was happy with the result and that overall center-left parties won more votes than right-leaning groups.

BERLIN – Final results in Germany confirm a clear win for mainstream opposition conservatives, a second-place finish for the far-right Alternative for Germany party and a dismal showing by the three governing parties in the European Parliament election.

Official figures Monday showed the center-right Union bloc taking 30% of the vote. Alternative for Germany took 15.9%.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats won only 13.9% of the vote for their worst post-World War II showing yet in a nationwide election. Their two coalition partners, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, took 11.9% and 5.2% respectively.

All were significantly below their results in Germany’s 2021 national election. The Greens suffered painful losses compared with the 2019 European election.

The new BSW party took 6.2% of the vote.

Germany has 96 of the new European Parliament’s 720 seats. Of those, 29 went to the Union, 15 to Alternative for Germany, 14 to the Social Democrats, 12 to the Greens, five to the Free Democrats and six to BSW. The rest went to a string of smaller parties.

WARSAW, Poland — The centrist party of Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk won the most votes, according to official results, giving it its first electoral victory over a right-wing populist party in a decade.

Many people across Europe hailed Tusk’s return to power last year as a rare case of a democratic party prevailing over populist and authoritarian forces. While Sunday’s voting solidified Tusk’s position, the results published Monday also showed that his lead is small, and that support for the far right is rising.

His Civic Coalition took 37.1% of the votes in Sunday’s EU election. Law and Justice, the party led by Jarosław Kaczyński that held power from 2015 until last year, got 36.2%. That underlined the continued attraction of its nationalist and conservative worldview to many Polish voters, despite reports of corruption during its years in power.

Meanwhile, a far-right party, Confederation, had its best result ever, coming third with 12.1% — in line with an EU-wide surge of support for nationalist, anti-EU parties.

ROME — Initial projections based on 18% of votes counted in Italy indicate Premier Giorgia Meloni’s far-right 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% of the vote, while the center-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) was second with 23.7%.

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

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s nationalist party appeared set to take the most votes in Sunday’s European Parliament elections, a race that pitted the long-serving leader against a new challenger that has upended Orbán’s grip on Hungarian politics in recent months.

With 55% of votes counted, Orbán’s Fidesz party stood at 43% 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 in what was widely seen as a referendum on Orbán’s popularity.

While Fidesz has dominated Hungarian politics since 2010, many are deeply dissatisfied with how it has governed the country. A deep economic crisis and a recent series of scandals involving Fidesz politicians have rocked the party, which prides itself on upholding family values and Christian conservatism.

MADRID — Spain’s leading opposition conservatives pulled ahead of the governing Socialists in the European Union’s parliamentary elections, with the far-right making significant gains amid the surprise appearance of a new extremist party led by a social media influencer.

With 99% of votes counted, the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) had 34% 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 Sánchez’s administration. But the biggest gains were on the far-right of the political spectrum.

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

Euroskeptic 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% of the votes, for seven seats, while Together claimed 22%, for six seats.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Near complete Dutch results confirmed Sunday night that Geert Wilders’ far-right, anti-immigration Party for Freedom was the biggest winner in elections for the European Union parliament.

Wilders’ 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’ delight. “Still the very biggest winner with five more seats!” he wrote on social media platform X.

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

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

Progressive Slovakia, a liberal and pro-Western group, won 27.8% 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%, for five seats.

Marine Le Pen, of France’s far-right National Rally party, says she is “ready to turn the country around” after dealing a heavy blow to French President Emmanuel 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 party 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.

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

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

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The state broadcaster of Cyprus says near-complete results show the far-right 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 far-right party, founded in 2008, has earned a seat in the European Parliament. ELAM’s strident polemics 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% of the vote counted, ELAM has garnered just over 11%, the state broadcaster said.

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A popular YouTuber and TikToker whose humorous and occasionally obnoxious posts have earned him tens of thousands of followers 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% 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.

Opinion polls consistently showed Panayiotou garnering high numbers, but no one expected him to perform so well 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.

“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,” Fidias said.

PARIS – French President Emmanuel 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, 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 far-right National Rally party well ahead in the European Union’s parliamentary election, defeating Macron’s pro-European centrists, according to French opinion poll institutes.

ZAGREB, Croatia — 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 far-right party also won a seat for the first time.

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

The report said that far-right Homeland Movement won 8.6%, 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%, which is also one seat.

See AP’s coverage of global elections in 2024 here.