EU Elections: Far-Right Loses Support but Center-Right Holds Steady

The better-than-expected showing of far-right and right-leaning parties in last weekend’s European Union parliamentary elections rattled the more traditional parties in the EU and led to a humiliating defeat for French President Emmanuel Macron who announced snap elections for later this summer.

The outcome of the European Parliamentary elections was a clear sign that the 27-nation bloc has shifted rightward in recent years, primarily over opposition to the EU’s policies on foreign migration.

In Italy, Premier Giorgia Meloni’s party more than doubled its seats in the assembly while in Germany, the latest scandals involving the far-right Alternative For Germany party did not stop the group from outpacing Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats.

Reading the writing on the wall, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of the Christian Democrat party had already begun to shift to the right on some issues ahead of the election, including migration and climate change. As such, the Christian Democrats succeeded in gaining the largest bloc of seats in the 720-seat EU Parliament.

At the same time, the surge in support for populist and nationalist parties throughout Europe will make it harder for the EU Parliament to approve legislation on more contentious issues like agriculture policy and climate change in the next five years.

The star of last weekend’s stunning election victories was France’s National Rally party, the far-right group led by Marine Le Pen.

The National Rally party dominated the French elections, leading President Macron to dissolve the national parliament and call for new elections beginning later this month. However, the move is a massive political risk for Macron’s party, which could suffer even more losses in new elections, making it harder for Macron to govern in the final years of his presidency.

National Rally won over 30 percent of the vote, or roughly twice as much as Macron’s centrist Renew party.

Le Pen welcomed the victory, saying her party was “ready to turn the country around” while defending “the interests of the French” by ending the country’s mass immigration.

While the Christian Democrats and the Socialists remained the dominant parties in last weekend’s EU elections, it was the Green party and Macron’s Renew party that paid the price for the far-right’s gains.