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Europe swings to the right, Macron calls for snap polls in France

Centre-right European People's Party leader Ursula von der Leyen appears set for a second term as European Union President

Europe swings to the right, Macron calls for snap polls in France
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Far right parties made significant gains in voting for the European Parliament on Sunday as European Union President and center-right European People’s Party (EPP) member Ursula von der Leyen appeared set for a second term at the helm.

In France, as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally won the polls with a record 32% share of the vote, French President Emmanual Macron, whose centrist Renaissance party got 15% of the vote, called for an unexpected national election in a bid to check the rise of his far-right rival.

“Legislative elections will be held on June 30 and July 7. I have confidence in the ability of the French people to make the fairest choice for themselves and for future generations,” Macron said in a post on X.

The euro declined to its lowest in a month after Macron’s call for snap polls, which comes just ahead of the Paris Olympics that begin on 26 July.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social and Democratic Party languished at third spot, its worst result ever, behind the centre-right Christian Democrats and extreme right party–the Alternative for Germany.

The rightward shift in the European Parliament may make it difficult for lawmakers to pass legislation on climate change, trade rivalry with China and the US, migration, and security issues amid the war in Ukraine over the next five years.

The EPP, a center-right grouping of European political parties from 27 countries, will remain the largest party in the European Parliament, projections released by Brussels showed after a four-day continent-wide election.

The party appeared set to secure as many as 189 seats in the 720-member parliament, with the second-placed Socialists and Democrats projected to pick up 135 seats.

“This election has given two messages. There remains a majority in the center for strong Europe. And that is crucial for stability. In other words, the center is holding. But it is also true that the extremes on the left and on the right have gained support, and this is why the results comes with great responsibility for the parties in the center,” von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen said that she would first seek the backing of the socialists and the liberals, who supported her during her first stint.

The liberal and pro-European Renew Europe party was projected to win 83 seats, while the European Conservatives and Reformists Group was set to get 72 seats.

The Identity and Democracy Party, a grouping of right-wing populist and Eurosceptic members, was on course to win 58 seats, and the environment-friendly Greens 53 seats.

The grouping of Left parties was projected to win 35 seats, and non-aligned parties, which includes the far-right Alternative for Germany, appeared set to pick up 45 seats.

Independents and newly elected parties are set to make up for the rest of the 50 seats.

Nationalist and ultraconservative made big gains in Austria, Greece, Cyprus and the Netherlands, polls showed.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s hard-right Brothers of Italy came out on top with between 27-31% of the vote against just 6% in 2019, according to exit polls.

Meloni’s position will be key in selection the successor to von der Leyen, who is also in the race.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ far-right, anti-immigrant Freedom party was poised to pick up six seats, up from one seat last time, but behind a Left-Green alliance led by the former EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans.

Final results were expected later on Monday.

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