EU Parliament Elections Results: Center Holds Despite Rightward Lurch

As the results of the European Parliament elections poured in on Sunday night, a mix of dramatic gains for far-right parties in France and Germany failed to overthrow the centrist working majority in the EU’s lower house. Ursula von der Leyen is on track to remain as president of the European Commission until 2029, as the center holds its ground.

“We won the European elections. We are by far the strongest party. We are the anchor of stability,” the German conservative leader declared, emphasizing the strength of the center in the European Parliament. The provisional projections indicated that her center-right European People’s Party (EPP) group secured 184 out of the 720 seats, maintaining a significant presence.

While the center-right EPP emerged on top, the center-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group followed with 139 lawmakers, and the liberal Renew group with 80 seats. Von der Leyen acknowledged the need to work with center-left and liberal parties to advance her agenda in the parliament.

Despite the fears of a far-right surge, individual results in France, Austria, and Germany did not bring about a seismic shift in the EU’s political landscape. However, the increased presence of far-right members in the European Parliament guarantees that their voices will have to be taken into account in future decision-making.

In a surprising move, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a snap parliamentary election following the strong performance of the far-right National Rally in the voting. Macron’s centrist party, Renaissance, faced a significant defeat, prompting the dissolution of the National Assembly and a call for fresh elections in June and July.

Far-right leaders across Europe, including Marine Le Pen of the National Rally, expressed readiness to exercise power and transform their countries. The fragmented far-right parliamentary groups, ECR and ID, celebrated modest gains in the European elections, while the AfD in Germany emerged as a significant force.

The election results also marked setbacks for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany and the Greens, who faced losses in the EU legislature. The future of the EU’s climate policies and the formation of majority coalitions in parliament remain key concerns following the elections.

As the political landscape in the EU undergoes shifts and negotiations for coalition-building intensify, the European Parliament prepares for a period of significant decision-making and alliance-building. Amid online disinformation warnings and violent attacks on politicians, the post-election period is expected to be marked by intricate political maneuvering before the new legislature convenes in July.