Europe-wide vote fragments center as far right, Greens gain

  • In Business
  • 2019-05-26 22:13:45Z

BRUSSELS (AP) - Europe's longtime political center appeared to shrink Sunday as exit polls and early results from the hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades showed both the anti-immigrant far right and the pro-environment Greens gaining ground.

The four days of balloting across the 28 European Union countries were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU. Turnout among the 426 million eligible voters was the highest in two decades.

While pro-EU parties still were expected to win about two-thirds of the 751-seat legislature that sits in Brussels and Strasbourg, other contenders appeared headed for significant gains, according to projections released by Parliament.

Exit polls in France indicated that Marine Le Pen's far-right, anti-immigrant National Rally party came out on top in an astonishing rebuke of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has made EU integration the heart of his presidency. Le Pen said the projected outcome "confirms the new nationalist-globalist division" in France and beyond.

In Germany, the EU's biggest country, exit polls indicated that the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and its center-left coalition partner also suffered losses, while the Greens were set for big gains and the far right was expected to pick up slightly more support.

In Italy, hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's right-wing populist League was projected to become his country's largest party, jumping from around 6% of the vote during the last election five years ago to between 27% and 31% this time.

Salvini's first reaction was a tweeted photo of himself holding a handwritten message: "1st Party in Italy."

And Hungary said Prime Minister Viktor Orban's fiercely anti-immigration Fidesz party had won 13 of the country's 21 seats in the EU Parliament, one more than it had in 2014.

Turnout across the bloc was put at a 50.5%, a 20-year high. Full election results were expected overnight.

The continent-wide voting had major implications not just for the functioning of the bloc but also for the internal politics in many countries.

The balloting, which began Thursday, pitted supporters of closer European unity against those who consider the EU a meddlesome and bureaucratic presence and want to return power to national governments and sharply restrict immigration.

The results could leave Parliament's two main parties, the European People's Party and the Socialists & Democrats, without a majority for the first time since 1979, opening the way for complicated talks to form a working coalition. The Greens and the ALDE free-market liberals are jockeying to become decisive in the body.

Esther de Lange, vice chair of the EPP, conceded that the results indicate "fragmentation and a shrinking center."

Early projections suggested the Greens would secure 71 seats, up from 52 the last time. The Greens appeared to have done well not just in Germany but in France and Ireland.

"The Green wave has really spread all over Europe, and for us that is a fantastic result," said Ska Keller, the group's co-leader in the Parliament.

The EU and its Parliament set trade policy on the continent, regulate agriculture, oversee antitrust enforcement and set monetary policy for 19 of the 28 nations sharing the euro currency.

Britain voted even though it is planning to leave the EU. Its EU lawmakers will lose their jobs as soon as Brexit happens.

Europe has been roiled in the past few years by immigration from the Mideast and Africa and deadly attacks by Islamic extremists. It has also seen rising tensions over economic inequality and growing hostility toward the political establishment - sentiments not unlike those that got Donald Trump elected in the U.S.

Proponents of stronger EU integration, led by Macron, argue that issues like climate change and immigration are too big for any one country to tackle alone.

Germany's Manfred Weber, the candidate of the EPP, said it is "most necessary for the forces that believe in this Europe, that want to lead this Europe to a good future, that have ambitions for this Europe," to work together.

Macron, whose country has been rocked in recent months by the populist yellow vest movement, had called the elections "the most important since 1979 because the Union is facing an existential risk" from nationalists seeking to divide the bloc.

With the elections over, European leaders will begin the task of selecting candidates for the top jobs in the EU's headquarters in Brussels. The leaders meet for a summit over dinner Tuesday. Current European lawmakers' terms end July 1, and the new parliament will be seated the following day.


Associated Press writers Raf Casert, Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria; Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain; Pablo Gorondi in Budapest; Sylvie Corbet in Paris; Jill Lawless in London; and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.



More Related News

The Latest: Putin won
The Latest: Putin won't budge to win sanctions respite
  • US
  • 2019-06-20 10:49:32Z

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will not compromise on its core interests to win a respite from Western sanctions. Putin admitted that the U.S. and the European Union sanctions have cost Russia an estimated $50 billion since 2014, but he claimed that the EU nations have suffered even greater damage due to the restrictions. Speaking during Thursday's live call-in show, the Russian leader said that the sanctions have encouraged Russia to launch its own production of ship engines and other key industrial products and develop its agricultural sector.

Momentum builds for EU leaders to agree carbon neutral 2050 pledge at summit
Momentum builds for EU leaders to agree carbon neutral 2050 pledge at summit

A push by Germany, France and other EU nations for the bloc to go carbon neutral by mid-century looks likely to be endorsed by EU leaders on Thursday, despite resistance from eastern European nations worried it could cost jobs. A majority of the European Union's 28 members have signed up to the

EU leaders converging on goal of zero carbon emissions in 2050
EU leaders converging on goal of zero carbon emissions in 2050

There is a growing number of European Union leaders who support the goal of making the EU economy neutral in terms of carbon emissions by 2050, but there is no unanimity yet, a senior EU official said on Wednesday. "I hope that of the trend continues and we get unanimity on Thursday," the official said. The European Union has agreed to substantial reductions of carbon emissions by 2030 and its executive, the Commission, wants the bloc to reduce them to zero by 2050 to help stop global warming, the rise of average worldwide temperatures.

Eight EU countries to phase out coal by 2030
Eight EU countries to phase out coal by 2030

Eight of the EU's 28 countries have pledged to phase out coal for electricity production by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, officials said Tuesday. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, received the pledges as contributions to the bloc's efforts to deliver on the 2015 Paris climate agreement. "More and more member states are making the political commitment to phase out coal in the next decade," EU climate and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.

EU nations receive mixed scorecard on climate goals
EU nations receive mixed scorecard on climate goals

The European Union called on its members to accelerate efforts to meet 2030 climate goals after a review showed them on track to meet the overall emissions reduction goal but falling short of other specific targets. As EU leaders debate whether to target going carbon neutral by 2050 at a summit later this week, the audit showed the 28-nation bloc on track to meet its headline pledge of cutting emissions by 40% by 2030. "Member States should collectively step up efforts to achieve the Union 2030 energy and climate goals, since continuation of existing policies at the same scale would not be sufficient to meet these targets," the European Commission said, calling for more details in the...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Business

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.