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Racing driver and influencer: see new members of the European Parliament

Millions of Europeans went to the polls to elect the 720 members of the next European Parliament in the election that began on Thursday (6) and ran until Sunday (9). Once the votes from the 27-nation bloc are counted, the results are expected to show a significant shift to the far right, which could have important implications for the political direction of the European Union.

Although attention has focused on the gains of the far right in the European elections, several candidates from the left, center and right are expected to occupy seats in parliament. Check out the selection of some of the newly elected deputies:

  • Czech Republic

Filip Turek – Mortorists Party

Filip Turek is a Czech car collector and former driver for the Drivers’ Party, a Eurosceptic group not represented in the Czech parliament that claims to defend drivers’ rights against the European Union’s climate policies.

Coming in third place in the EU elections with 10.3%, 38-year-old Turek has seen his popularity grow through social media with his “petrolhead” image and calls to reshape Europe.

But police have also been investigating photographs of the politician using the Nazi salute several years ago and other activities possibly suggesting Nazi sympathies. He was not charged and dismissed the allegations as a misunderstanding.

  • Germany

Marie-Agnes Straack-Zimmermann – Liberal German

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, is part of the German parliament, the Bundestag, and is a military specialist. The politician will enter the European Parliament through the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP).

Strack-Zimmermann is a strong supporter of Ukraine and has criticized German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, her coalition partner, for being hesitant to supply the country with weapons, including Germany’s “Taurus” cruise missiles.

The politician recently said Scholz was an “autistic know-it-all.”

The 66-year-old has led a high-profile campaign criticizing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for imposing more bureaucracy and regulating the economy.

  • Italy

General Roberto Vannacci – The League

Vannacci is an Italian army general who last year published a book disparaging LGBTQ+ people, migrants, minorities and feminists.

The politician’s ideas generated outrage but had a positive impact on the leader of the far-right League, Matteo Salvini, who nominated him to be one of the party’s main candidates.

In his bestselling book, Vannacci questioned whether people of color could ever be Italian, even if they were born in the country, and defended a person’s right to “hate.”

A 55-year-old former commander and paratrooper, Vannacci was a military officer at the Italian embassy in Moscow.

The politician is under investigation for embezzlement of public funds during his stay in Russia, something he denies. Vannacci was also suspended from military service, accused of discrediting the army with his book.

Ilaria Salis – Green and Left Alliance (AVS)

Salis, a 39-year-old Italian teacher, has been detained in Hungary for more than a year for allegedly attacking far-right activists, something she denies.

The case drew outrage in Italy in February when the politician was brought to a hearing with her hands and feet tied and a chain around her waist.

Prosecutors are seeking an 11-year sentence for Salis. The politician’s fame guaranteed her a place on the AVS electoral list and, as an elected member of the European Parliament, she was granted immunity and should be released by Hungary.

  • Poland

Daniel Obajtek – Law and Justice (PIS)

Daniel Obajtek was chief executive of the state-controlled Polish multinational oil company Orlen from 2018 until the nationalist Law and Justice (PIS) party lost power in 2023. The politician currently faces several investigations.

Prosecutors are investigating whether the refinery artificially lowered fuel prices ahead of the 2023 elections to help the party. In addition, it is also under analysis whether the company sold assets belonging to the Polish refinery Lotos below value to obtain regulatory authorization for an acquisition.

Orlen Trading Switzerland’s (OTS) loss of around $400 million in prepayments is also being investigated.

Under Obajtek’s direction, Orlen acquired the newspaper publisher Polska Press. Critics said it was an attempt by PIS to gain more control over the media. The company stated that it was a commercial transaction.

The politician missed several scheduled hearings before a parliamentary committee and did not appear for questioning at the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Obajtek denies any wrongdoing.

Grzegorz Braun – Confederation

Grzegorz Braun, from the far-right Polish Confederation party, sparked international outrage in December when he grabbed a fire extinguisher from a wall in the parliament hall to extinguish lit candles as part of celebrations of Hanukkah – a Jewish festival also known as the Festival of Lights

After the episode, Braun took to the podium in the chamber, describing the holiday as “satanic” and saying he was restoring “normalcy.”

The politician, who has also made pro-Russian statements in the past, had already gained notoriety with other cases such as throwing a Christmas tree decorated in the colors of the European Union and Ukraine into the trash and damaging a microphone during a talk by a Holocaust historian. .

  • Spain

Teresa Ribeira – Socialist Party

Spanish Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera, 55, will lead the 20 MEPs the Socialist Party won after opinion polls initially indicated the ruling party was headed for defeat.

The technocratic Ribera has held the ministerial post for six years and has been influential in Brussels, where she was a champion of reform of the bloc’s energy market.

While Spain held the EU’s rotating presidency last year, the politician was a key figure at the COP28 conference in Dubai. Ribera did not rule out taking a job at the next European Commission.

In Spain, she has led an ambitious green agenda since 2018, advocating a harder and faster transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Jorge Buxade – Vox

Jorge Buxade, 48, led Spain’s far-right VOX party to a solid position in Sunday’s elections, increasing its number of seats from four to six.

Buxade has been the party’s voice in Brussels for the past five years.

VOX’s performance was not as strong as that of other far-right groups in the bloc and was weaker in terms of percentage of total votes than in the most recent national elections last July.

The party’s performance was considered strong due to competition from independent influencer Alvise Perez and his “The Party is Over” movement, which won three seats.

Buxade belongs to the most conservative wing of VOX, whose leader Santiago Abascal oscillates between a libertarian stance of a small government and low taxes and ultra-conservative, anti-immigration and anti-LGBTQ+ rights positions.

Alvise Perez – “The Party is Over”

Influencer Alvise Perez obtained 800,000 votes and three seats in the European Parliament, mainly among young male voters.

Perez’s party has no electoral program, other than proposing the construction of a prison without a swimming pool or gym for corrupt politicians. The influencer promised to give up his salary as an MEP if he was elected.

The politician, who has several lawsuits pending for alleged defamation, did not run a traditional campaign, but took advantage of his social media accounts – almost a million followers on Instagram, more than 500 thousand subscribers on Telegram – to make his symbol, a squirrel in a Guy Fawkes soldier mask, popular throughout Spain.

  • France

Jordan Bardella – Rassamblement Nacional

Jordan Bardella is the 28-year-old from Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) party, leading the far-right party to victory over Macron’s centrists in Sunday’s vote.

Elected MEP for the first time in 2019, Bardella helped broaden RN’s appeal, leading efforts to abandon its racist past, focusing on immigration issues and criticism of the European Union.

The politician embraces his working-class roots on the outskirts of Paris, citing his Italian immigrant mother and Le Pen as the two women to whom he owes everything.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called early parliamentary elections for the end of this month. If the far right were to obtain an absolute majority in this vote, Bardella would be the most likely candidate for prime minister.

Source: CNN Brasil

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