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Far right emerges in European Parliament elections, but the center still remains

Far-right parties are expected to win a record number of seats in the European Parliament a result that, if confirmed, would represent a sharp rebuke to the political mainstream in Brussels and add uncertainty to Europe’s future direction.

After three days of voting in the European Union’s 27 member states, an exit poll showed that far-right parties were expected to win around 150 of the 720 seats in parliament, which will likely make it more difficult for traditional parties to form votes. majorities needed to pass laws.

In a speech this Sunday (9), the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen , said the results showed that his European People’s Party (EPP) – which is expected to secure the most seats – could still function as an “anchor of stability”. She, however, appealed to her political allies to protect her against extremist parties.

“The center is holding up. But it is also true that the extremes of the left and right gained support, and that is why the result brings great responsibility to the parties in the center,” she told an audience in Brussels.

The full results will be released on Monday, when the coalition-building process will begin as Europe’s centrists seek to put aside their differences to defeat a resurgent far right.

Most of the far-right’s gains have been concentrated in countries that elect a large number of seats: France, Italy and Germany.

After the exit poll showed that the far-right party Reagrupamento Nacional (RN), of Marine Le Pen must defeat his own candidates, the French president, Emmanuel Macron dissolved its parliament and called a risky early election, with the first round scheduled for June 30.

Initial results showed that the RN received 31.5% of the vote, more than double the share of Macron’s Renaissance Party, which fell to second place with 15.2% of the vote, just ahead of the Socialists in third, with 14.3%.

In a celebratory speech at RN headquarters before Macron’s shock announcement, party leader Jordan Bardella said the “unprecedented defeat for the current government marks the end of a cycle and the first day of the post-Macron era.”

Just like Macron, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz , also suffered a severe blow in the polls, as its Social Democrats (SD) obtained the worst result in history, 14%, while the popular Christian Democratic Party (CDU) came in first place, with 29.5% of the votes . The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) came in second place, with 16.5%.

While the results set the EU’s political direction for the next five years, this set of national elections is often seen as a de facto assessment of incumbent national governments. This could spell trouble for Macron in the 2027 presidential elections in France and for Scholz in Germany’s federal elections next year.

Much has changed in Europe since the last parliamentary elections in 2019, after the United Kingdom left the bloc in 2020 and Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. The developments put much of the continent on a war footing as the bloc tried desperately to send necessary supplies for Kiev and member states bolstered their own defenses.

“Of course, this election does not take place in a vacuum. The world around us is in crisis. External and internal forces are trying to destabilize our societies and trying to weaken Europe,” said von der Leyen.

Although the rise of the far right could further complicate Brussels’ bid for the bloc’s unity, the parties across the political spectrum themselves remain relatively divided. Germany’s AfD is politically “homeless”: it was removed from the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) party after its main European candidate, Maximilian Krah, said he did not consider all members of the Nazi paramilitary group, the SS, as criminals. Several other far-right parties are among the non-aligned (NI) group, which is expected to secure 45 seats.

Responding to the exit poll, Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, stated that the results show that the establishment Brussels politician needs to “understand how people voted” and make decisions “that have an impact on citizens’ everyday lives”.

“We can see that the constructive and pro-European center has remained”, she pointed out, but stressed that it remains “a responsibility of the groups to come together to form a majority”.

*CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and Billy Stockwell contributed to this report.

Source: CNN Brasil

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