Gains On Far Right As EU's Von Der Leyen Forecast For Second Term - Eastern Mirror
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Gains on far right as EU’s von der Leyen forecast for second term

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By IANS Updated: Jun 10, 2024 10:51 am

BRUSSELS — The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) has won the European Parliament elections with 184 seats, provisional results from the EU legislature show, with all polls closed on Sunday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen now stands a stronger chance of securing a second term with her EPP group, which she campaigned for, performing so well, despite far-right gains, and losses among liberal and green parties.

In a speech welcoming the result, von der Leyen said that she would work with political groups from the centre-left and liberals that originally backed her to win reappointment.

“This platform has worked well. It was constructive, it was effective,” von der Leyen said, in a signal that she would not immediately seek support from parties further to the right.

Earlier von der Leyen had said that, together with other parties, she wanted to form “a bulwark against the extremes from the left and the right,” adding: “We will stop them.”

During campaigning von der Leyen did not rule out cooperating with more extreme right-wing parties, in particular, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s nationalist Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.

Liberal parties fell from 102 seats to 80 seats while Green parties are also projected to lose a large number of European Parliament seats, down from 71 to 52, according to provisional results released by the EU at 2:45 a.m. on Monday.

The result, based on provisional figures from 23 EU countries and estimates and pre-electoral data for the remaining four, fends off a challenge from the far-right groups in the Parliament that polled an estimated 131 seats, a gain of some 13 seats compared to the last elections in 2019.

The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are projected to hold on to their 139 seats, while the more extreme The Left group is projected to lose one, going from 37 to 36.

There are 720 seats up for grabs in the EU legislature, meaning von der Leyen needs 361 seats for a majority. Together with the EPP, S&D and the liberals, von der Leyen is projected to have 403 votes supporting her.

Preliminary results show the far right made significant returns in Germany, France and Italy.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is set to win an estimated 14 seats despite a string of recent scandals and polled second to the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU).

The Social Democrats (SPD) of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were projected to gain a similar number of seats to the AfD despite gaining about 1.5 per cent less votes.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron decided to dissolve Parliament, announcing new national elections, after his party lost to the far-right National Rally led by Marine Le Pen.

The National Rally received about 31.5 per cent of votes, according to the provisional results, while Macron’s pro-European camp only received around 14.5 per cent.

Von der Leyen needs to gather together support from a range of political groups, extending from the centre left to the centre right, to have her appointment backed by the European Parliament.

A new avenue of cooperation opened with the Green parties when Bas Eickhout, a senior Dutch election candidate, signalled a willingness to cooperate with the victorious EPP in a speech in the European Parliament.

“What we need to do now is create a stable majority in the centre of the European Parliament,” he said.

In Hungary, a former ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Peter Magyar, caused a stir this year by resigning from Orban’s Fidesz party to take the helm of an obscure centre-right party called Respect and Freedom (TISZA).

Preliminary results suggest TISZA has won seven of Hungary’s 21 European Parliament seats; Fidesz is projected to have won 10, with its domestic coalition partner the Christian Democrats (KDNP) winning one.

EPP leader Manfred Weber has made explicit overtures for TISZA to join his group’s ranks. Fidesz was expelled from the EPP in 2021 — having been suspended since 2019 — but the KDNP remains a member of the group.

A potential kingmaker role for Italy’s Meloni is still also on the table after her party topped the poll with an estimated 28.6 per cent of the vote and secured about 23 seats, an influential bloc of votes.

Continent-wide elections for the European Parliament had their last day of voting on Sunday, with 360 million people across the 27 EU member states eligible to cast their ballots over four days.

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By IANS Updated: Jun 10, 2024 10:51:28 am
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