EU election results hang in the balance as polls close

by Admin
EU election results hang in the balance as polls close

Hundreds of millions of Europeans are voting to select 720 Members of the European Parliament, with rising support for the far-right.


First results are due later today in EU elections — in a vote which threatens to weaken the pro-European majority in the European Parliament. 

After four days of voting, the first projections for the new legislative chamber will issue after 8pm, and again after 11pm, when polls close in Italy.

But estimates from individual countries could trickle in before then — and this article will be updated as and when new information arrives. 

In countries such as the Netherlands, voting took place on Thursday — and its exit poll suggests Geert Wilders’ PVV party will scoop seven seats — confirming a swing towards eurosceptic right-wing parties predicted by previous polling.

That swing was not as extreme as some had expected, enabling the GreenLeft-Labour alliance, which is forecast by the exit poll to take eight Dutch seats in the European Parliament, to claim victory.

Wilders’ tally is a leap however from the party’s current one MEP, so by any standards it seems a bellwether for large gains on the far right.

With around 373 million voters from across 27 EU member states – which for the first time includes some 16 and 17-year-olds — it’s the world’s largest multi-state democratic exercise. 

The results determine which 720 Members of the European Parliament get to deliberate on EU legislation over the next five years.

It takes place after a turbulent five years dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and full-scale invasion of Ukraine — not to mention a soaring cost of living that came to dominate voter concerns.

Opinion polls suggest the far-right will come first in major countries, including Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France.

They also predict a weakening of the pro-European establishment, with voters turning against the likes of Liberal French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Green party, which currently forms part of Olaf Scholz’s coalition government.

The campaign has not been without its controversies. MEP Maximilian Krah stepped down from his leadership role at the far-right Alternative for Germany after a gaffe in which he appeared to defend the Nazi SS paramilitary group.

Hungary hosted its first TV debate in 18 years in honour of the elections — and newcomer Péter Magyar is threatening the grip on power of the increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Tasks ahead

Among MEPs’ first tasks will be to approve the candidate to lead the European Commission, with incumbent president Ursula von der Leyen hoping to secure a second term. 

Electoral dynamics could make that more challenging, as advance polling suggests a weakening in the coalition that narrowly backed her in 2019 — when she won 383 votes, just seven more than she needed.

No single party has a majority in the European Parliament, and votes are often decided issue-by-issue by finding a coalition that commands the required majority.

The chamber has always been dominated by its two large groups, the centre-right European People’s Party and centre-left Socialists.

The two lost their combined majority in the 2019 elections, since when they’ve had to form informal alliances with parties such as the Greens and Liberals — and polls suggest they are unlikely to regain it in 2024. 


MEPs will also get to amend or oppose new legislative proposals — leaving the fate of the EU Green Deal, an ambitious set of laws to cut carbon emissions, in the balance. 

Each country is allocated a set number of MEPs in line with population, ranging from 96 for Germany, to just six each in Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg. 

For the first time since direct elections began in 1979, the count won’t include the UK — whose 73 MEPs left after Brexit day in February 2020.

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