Thursday, June 13, 2024

Right-wing populists notch huge gains across EU in European Parliament elections — throwing governments into chaos

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The right strikes back!

The president of France was forced to call an emergency election as populist right-wing parties made stunning gains in elections held across Europe Sunday.

President Emmanuel Macron announced he would dissolve his National Assembly and hold elections next month after he was humiliated by voters in the European Parliament election.

The anti-immigration, anti-EU National Rally party led by Macron’s arch-rival Marine Le Pen is projected to get at least 31% of the votes — more than twice as many as the president’s pro-European centrist party.

“The French people have sent a very clear message. They no longer want a technocratic, out-of-touch European construction which results in a loss of influence, identity and freedom,” Le Pen said, according to The Times.

In Germany, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party took second place in the polls with 16.5% of the vote despite being mired in controversies — even placing ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party.

Germany’s left-of-center governing coalition parties are estimated to barely secure a combined 30% of votes.

The Greens environmental party, the second-biggest in Scholz’s coalition, only secured 12% of the vote.

Germany’s right-wing Alternative for Germany party celebrated major wins on Sunday, with the party taking second place in the nation. AFP via Getty Images
It was a major blow to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s whose party is projected to receive less votes than the opposition. AP

Alice Weidel, co-head of the AfD, touted her party’s projected victories on Sunday despite the negative headlines that have followed them, including the conviction of one of their leading politicians last month for closing out a campaign speech with the infamous Nazi slogan, “Everything for Germany!”

“We’ve done well because people have become more anti-European,” Weidel said on Sunday.

“People are annoyed by so much bureaucracy from Brussels,” she added, giving a plan ultimately to ban CO2-emitting cars as an example.

Before Sunday, the signs of a major shift were apparent. In the Netherlands, anti-immigrant populist Prime Minister Geert Wilders increased his seats of the European Parliament from one to seven — though liberal parties narrowly won the most votes.

The nationalist victories signify a shift to the right for the European Parliament, which could fragment the EU, analysts said.

“This is a hard defeat for us today,” said Kevin Kühnert, the head of Germany’s Social Democrats — Chancellor’s Schultz’s party.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party is expected to secure less than half of the opposition, nationalist party. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The European Parliament elections represent the second largest democratic vote in the world — after India — with some 450 citizens represented.

In Belgium, the Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced he would resign after national elections in the nation of 11.5 million people saw his center-right party’s vote share projected to drop to less than 5%.

The right-wing anti-immigration Vlaams Belang party took second place in the election with 17.5% of the vote, while the right-wing nationalist New Flemish Alliance retained the largest share of votes.

Sunday’s results will result in complex negotiations in a country divided by language and deep regional identities. Belgium is split along linguistic lines, with francophone Wallonia in the south and Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, and governments are invariably formed by coalitions made of parties from both regions.

The projections in Germany and France were expected to be repeated in other European Union countries, with Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party coming out on top in the nation’s polls over the weekend.

The change in the European Parliaments’ make up could make it more difficult for the governing body to pass legislation and even paralyze the world’s largest trading bloc as conservatives may be more likely to take a nation-first focus less concerned with the EU as a whole.

EU lawmakers, who serve a five-year term in the 720-seat Parliament, have a say in a wide variety of issues affecting the 27-member bloc, including financial rules, climate policies and agriculture laws.

It also approves the budget for the EU and is in charge of the aid being delivered to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

With Post wires

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