Sunday, June 16, 2024

EU elections 2024 live: Macron dissolves French parliament and calls snap election; Meloni’s party leading in Italy, poll says

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Key events

Roberta Metsola, the European parliament president, has taken the stage here at the European parliament in Brussels, addressing the press.


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What’s behind the French far-right’s win?

Angelique Chrisafis

The French far-right National Rally is heading for a massive win tonight, led by its 28-year old top candidate, Jordan Bardella.

Bardella, who was elected to the European parliament five years ago, has led the National Rally’s European campaign to unprecedented heights, taking 32.4% of the vote today based on the latest estimates.

He has taken a deliberately humble tone with voters, part of a strategy to deliver the final phase of far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s decade-long drive to soften the far-right party’s image.

Bardella does not seek to dilute the party’s hardline anti-immigration message, which has not changed since the 1970s; instead he wants to make it respectable and fully mainstream ahead of Le Pen’s fourth attempt at the presidency in 2027.

The French far-right National Rally’s high score in European elections is not new. From the mid-1980s, it has traditionally done well in European votes and topped the poll in France in the last two European elections, in 2014 and in 2019.

One major difference this time is that the rise of other far-right parties across the EU can give the French equivalent more international clout.

A second is that Bardella’s lead against French president Emmanuel Macron’s group is big – expected to be around 17 percentage points – whereas last time it was less than 1%. This shows not just that the far right has grown, but that Macron’s support has considerably fallen.


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German far-right AfD welcomes party performance

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

The AfD leadership has welcomed the party’s performance in the European election, in which they look to have secured more than 16% of the vote according to exit polls.

Tino Chrupalla, its co-leader, described the result to broadcaster ZDF as a “super outcome”, saying his party had “accrued almost 50 per cent new voters”.

A sea of affairs and scandals around its leading candidates Maximilian Krah and Petr Bystron had clearly not dented the AfD’s attractivity to voters, he said.

Admitting that the party emerged with a poorer result than opinion polls had suggested ahead of the vote, some of which saw them with more than 20%, the party still gained 5.5% when compared to the 2019 vote, and as a result has emerged as the second strongest.

Alice Weidel, joint leader to Chrupalla, put her party’s strong standing down to an increasingly EU-sceptical stance amongst voters.

“All in all people are fed up with the fact that they are faced with so much bureaucracy from Brussels,” she told broadcaster ARD, citing in particular, its legislation to ban combustion engines.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) right-wing political party co-chairman Tino Chrupalla (R) and Alternative for Germany (AfD) right-wing political party deputy chairwoman Alice Weidel (L) celebrate during the Alternative for Germany (AfD) election event in Berlin, Sunday. Photograph: Filip Singer/EPA
Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Here is the centre-right European People’s party internal projection based on available exit polls.

The centre-right European People’s party’s internal projection based on exit polls Photograph: The Guardian

Angela Giuffrida

Update from our correspondent in Rome

Turnout in Italy neared 39% by 7pm, according to data from the interior ministry.

Italians have until 11pm to cast their ballot, and are also voting in a host of local elections including Bari, Cagliari and Florence, a traditionally leftwing city being challenged by Eike Schmidt, the former director of the Uffizi galleries who is running for mayor on behalf of Italy’s ruling far-right coalition.

Meanwhile, there was disarray at a voting station in Naples after a scrutineer decided to leave and not return, allegedly because the pay was too low. She was subsequently reported to police, according to reports in the Italian press. TGcom24 reported that pay for scrutineers ranges between €56 and €110.

Far-right leading in France, according to estimate

The far-right has made significant gains in France, according to an estimate published just now, leaving Emmanuel Macron’s allies far behind in second place in a race that is closely-watched in France and around Europe.

The far-right National Rally, led by Jordan Bardella: 32.4%

Renaissance, Modem, Horizons, UDI led by Valérie Hayer: 15.2%

Socialists and Place Publique led by Raphaël Glucksmann: 14.3%

Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella Photograph: Thomas Padilla/AP

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Young Germans desert Greens for far-right

Deborah Cole

Deborah Cole

Germany’s ZDF public television said German voters under 30 went in droves to the far right, with +10 points for AfD and -18 points for Greens compared to five years ago. Many also turned to smaller parties such as Volt.

The result was notable as it was the first time 16 and 17 year olds were allowed to cast ballots in Germany in a European election.

The live blog comes to you tonight from the European parliament.

Here’s a view from the Guardian team’s table.

‘Look amongst ourselves to find the mistakes’: German SPD reacts to projections

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

Meanwhile the SPD‘s general secretary Kevin Kühnert said his party, which secured just 14%, would “look amongst ourselves to find the mistakes we’ve made,” he said. “But we won’t be putting on sackcloth and ashes.”

He said it would be wrong to push the blame onto SPD leader and chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

“We had an honest and upstanding campaign. It would be very bad style to now push the blame onto one person.”

Hermann Binkert, head of the polling institute INSA called the result – in which all three parties in Scholz’s coalition government, including the pro-business FDP (around 5%) were punished by the voters – the equivalent of the electorate “handing the receipt” to the government for their disgruntlement.

According to a recent INSA poll, 70% of Germans are currently dissatisfied with the government, compared to 22% who are satisfied.

“Never has a government been so unpopular with the electorate. It looks unlikely that this coalition will regain its majority in the coming year,” Binkert told German media.

German Green party co-leader reacts

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

The co-leader of Germany’s Green party, Ricarda Lang, has reacted with disappointment to her party’s performance at the European election, in which it slumped to 12%, (from 20.5 five years ago) according to exit polls.

“This is below the expectation with which we went into this election and we will review this together,” she said on broadcaster ARD.

Lang said the world was a very different place from the time in which the election in 2019 took place, saying people were feeling very unsettled by many things, especially the issues of war and peace.

But a change of her party’s course regarding the conflict in Ukraine would not be on the cards, Lang said. “If Vladimir Putin (the Russian president) was allowed to win this war, the future in Germany would be considerably less peaceful,” Lang said.

Ricarda Lang, right, Federal Chairwoman of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and Omid Nouripour, Federal Chairman of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, leave the stage at the Greens’ election party in the Columbiahalle after the first projections were announced, in Berlin, Sunday. Photograph: Christoph Soeder/AP

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