Saturday, June 15, 2024

EU election updates: Early projections show big gains for far right as voting nears end

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Voters across the European Union have been voting on the final day of European parliamentary elections to choose their representatives for the next five-year term.

Polls opened in 20 EU countries early Sunday for the June 6 to 9 elections for a new European Parliament, the legislative branch of the 27-member bloc.

READ MORE: Voters in 20 EU countries cast ballots on final day of European Parliament election

Millions of Europeans have been casting their ballots this week in one of the world’s biggest democratic elections. Far-right parties are looking to gain more power amid a rise in the cost of living and farmers’ discontent, while the wars in Gaza and Ukraine are also key topics weighing on the minds of voters.

The economy, jobs, poverty and social exclusion, public health, climate change and the future of Europe are also prominent issues.

Here’s the latest:

2:50 p.m. EDT

First projection by EU suggests far-right parties made big gains

BRUSSELS — Far-right parties have made big gains at the European Parliament as the Greens took a major hit at Sunday’s European elections, according to a first projection provided by the European Union.

The estimates aggregated by the EU parliament are based on exit polls or other survey data, along with projections that may include some partial election returns.

The two mainstream and pro-European groups, the conservatives and the socialists, lost a few seats but remained the dominant forces. The Greens were expected to lose about 20 seats.

First projected results from France put far-right National Rally party well ahead in EU election

PARIS, France — The first projected results from France are putting the far-right National Rally party well ahead in EU elections, according to French opinion poll institutes.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, nationalist party is estimated to get around 31 to 32 percent of the vote, more than twice the score of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-European centrist party that is projected to reach around 15 percent.

France is electing 81 members of the European Parliament.

Croatia exit polls project governing conservatives to win the most votes

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 percent of the vote, or six seats, while the Social Democratic Party won 27.8 percent, 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 percent, 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 percent, which is also one seat.

Low turnout in Greece, where none of 3 main parties seems to have reached their goals

ATHENS, Greece — In Greece, none of the big three parties has reached their stated goals in Sunday’s election for the European Parliament, but all may find a silver lining in them.

With more than 40 percent of the vote counted, turnout is 39 percent, nearly 20 percentage points below that of the last European election, in May 2019.

The ruling center-right New Democracy had hoped to match its 2019 result of 33 percent. So far, it is polling at 27.6 percent, still far ahead of main opposition SYRIZA with nearly 15 percent and the socialist PASOK at just over 13 percent.

SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis had hoped for at least 20 percent of vote share or, at least, to match the 17.8 percent obtained by the party in last year’s second national election. PASOK had hoped to overtake SYRIZA for second place, as opinion polls seemed to show last year. But if results hold, its margin with SYRIZA will be less than shown in recent opinion surveys.

Far-right parties increased their share of the vote, even as one of them, the Spartans, was barred from contesting the election. Greek Solution is so far getting nearly 10 percent of the vote, the ultra-religious Niki at just over 4 percent and Voice of Reason at 3 percent.

Exit polls indicate party of Bulgaria’s ex-prime minister is the likely winner

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Exit polls in Bulgaria indicate the GERB center-right party of three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is the likely winner of the country’s parliamentary vote as well as the election for European Parliament.

The exit poll conducted by Gallup International showed the GERB party with 26 percent, apparently edging out the reformist coalition between the We Continue the Change party and the right-wing Democratic Bulgaria by a margin of over 10 percentage points in both votes. Borissov held the premiership three times between 2009 and 2021.

Projections show a record-low voter turnout. Initial results are expected on Monday, but it could take days before the final official results are announced.

If final results confirm indications from the exit poll, Borissov will be handed a mandate to form his fourth cabinet, though he could face an uphill task in finding allies to form a governing coalition in a fragmented parliament.

The ultra-nationalist Vazrazhdane party, a strong opposition to any actions against Putin’s Russia, is seen as widening its parliamentary presence at home to 15 percent and for the first time is also expected to send at least three representatives to the European Parliament.

1:05 p.m. EDT

Mainstream, pro-EU parties expected to hold majority despite gains by far right

BRUSSELS — First national estimates from five European Union countries provided by the European Parliament suggest mainstream and pro-European parties should retain their majority in next legislature despite gains by the far-right.

The estimates aggregated by the EU parliament were based on exit polls or other survey data. They came from Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands.

The Socialists, Liberals, Greens and Conservatives put on a strong showing even though they are expected to lose seats to far-right parties like those led by Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France.

Von der Leyen congratulates her Germany party after exit polls show it did well

BRUSSELS — European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has congratulated her German party, the Christian Democratic Union, on its result in the election after exit polls showed that it was the biggest vote-getter.

“You know that we in Europe still have to wait several hours, but what you have already set as a trend is all the better – strongest force, stable, in difficult times and by a distance,” she told supporters by video link from Brussels.

“Now we have to replicate this in Europe, but I am confident that we will succeed this evening,” she said.

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