Far-right support explodes in European Union elections as social democrats sink

June 10, 2024


Far-right support explodes in European Union elections as social democrats sink

PA damaged election poster depicting Germany’s Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Frankfurt is representative of the center-left’s results in the EU elections. | A

Far-right parties achieved major gains in the European Parliament elections held June 6 to 9. Results announced on Sunday showed a clear shift to the far right, and in France, prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to call a snap parliamentary election.

Italian far-right Premier Giorgia Meloni celebrates her party’s gains in the EU parliamentary elections. | AP

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni more than doubled the seats held by her party, which is the descendant of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s ruling party.

And despite being hounded by a scandal involving its candidates, the neo-Nazi Alternative for Germany (AfD) rallied enough seats to sweep past the slumping Social Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. AfD is now Germany’s second-biggest party in the European parliament.

Overall, the Christian Democrats remain the largest group in the 720-seat parliament and de facto brokers of the ever-expanding powers of the legislature.

The provisional results showed that the Christian Democrats would have 189 seats (up 13) the Social Democrats 135 (down four), and the pro-business Renew group 83 (down 19). The Greens slumped to 53, down 18.

Arguably, the most disturbing result was the surge of support in the French poll for the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen.

It won over 30%, or about twice as much as Macron’s pro-European Renew party, which is projected to reach less than 15%. The result in France led to Macron taking the huge gamble of dissolving the country’s National Assembly and calling a general election for later this month.

Le Pen said: “We’re ready to turn the country around, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration,” echoing the rallying cry of so many far-right leaders in other countries who were celebrating substantial wins.

Leader of the French Communists, Fabien Roussel, said his party would put “all its energy into building the broad popular front, capable of bringing hope to the left and defeating the extreme right,” in the assembly elections.

In Germany, the EU’s most populous nation, projections indicated that voters had not been dissuaded by the AfD’s scandals, as it rose to 16.%, up from 11% in 2019.

In comparison, the combined result for the three parties in the German governing coalition barely topped 30%.

Scholz’s governing Social Democratic party was humiliated by the AfD surging past it into second place. German Greens were predicted to fall from 20% to 12%. Some experts suggest the fall from grace is partly due to the German Greens’ support for the Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza.