(Brussels) The European elections, marked by a surge in the far right in a number of countries, caused a political earthquake in France, without upsetting the political balance in Brussels.

The first estimates confirmed a clear progression of the nationalist and radical rights, and a bitter setback for the leaders of the two main powers of the EU, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the French President Emmanuel Macron, who announced a dissolution of the French assembly.

This election, where more than 360 million voters were called to the polls to nominate 720 MEPs, has taken place since Thursday in a climate weighed down by a gloomy economic situation and the war in Ukraine, at a time when the EU is facing challenges strategic towards China and the United States.

In France, the National Rally led by Jordan Bardella dominated the poll with more than 31.5% of the vote, far ahead of President Macron’s Renaissance party (15.2%), according to pollster estimates. The RN would thus garner 31 of the 81 French MEPs.

Across the Rhine, despite the latest scandals which have splashed its head of list, the German far right AfD is credited in second place, with 16.5-16% of the votes, behind the conservative CDU-CSU (29.5- 30%), but far ahead of the ruling coalition parties, Social Democrats (14%) and Greens (12%).

In Austria, the FPÖ leads the poll (27%), and the Dutch, first to vote on Thursday, have clearly strengthened Geert Wilders’ far-right party.

In Poland, the centrist pro-European party of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk came in ahead of the populist nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, but it maintains a high score and the extreme right of Konfederacja, very Eurosceptic, n will send no less than 6 MEPs to Strasbourg.

However, the far right remains divided in the European Parliament into two groups (ID and ECR) whose rapprochement remains very uncertain due to their significant differences, particularly on Russia.

“The voices of the extreme right and the sovereignist right cannot be added together, this will limit their direct weight in the legislature,” Sébastien Maillard, of the Jacques Delors Institute, explains to AFP.  

“But the brown wave, particularly striking in France, will inevitably influence the political climate in which the Commission will operate and the majority will have to take this into account,” he adds. “In the absence of direct influence, the extreme right will be able to influence insidiously,” he warns.

While MEPs adopt legislation in concert with member states, the radical rights could make themselves heard on crucial issues: defense against an expansionist Russia, agricultural policy, migration, 2040 climate objective, continuation of environmental measures to which they are fiercely hostile ..

The centrist “grand coalition” of the right (EPP), Social Democrats (S 

According to projections published on Sunday by the institution itself, the EPP would win 181 seats, the S 

“The EPP is the most powerful political group […] And this is important, we will build a rampart against the extremes of left and right, we will stop them”, nevertheless assured Sunday the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, from the EPP, and candidate for its renewal.

She will have to obtain the approval of the leaders of the Twenty-Seven and then a favorable vote from MEPs – who in 2019 only gave her their confidence by a very narrow majority (nine votes).

Ms. von der Leyen had courted Italian head of government Giorgia Meloni and her post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia (FDI) party, in whom she sees a suitable, pro-European and pro-Ukraine partner – much to the dismay of liberal and socialists of the EPP, but also of the Greens.

“Will we support Ursula von der Leyen? It’s too early to tell. Very clearly, we are ready to negotiate,” but on condition of excluding any rapprochement with Ms. Meloni, argued the environmentalist leader for the Europeans, Bas Eickhout.

It makes the deepening of the Green Deal “a very important element” of the Commission’s future program, even though the EPP is extremely reluctant to do so.

Ms Meloni, who ran as the lead candidate in this election, reaffirmed her desire to “defend the borders against illegal immigration, protect the real economy and fight against unfair competition”.

Giorgia Meloni also strongly supports aid to Ukraine – unlike Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban: very critical of Brussels, the nationalist leader is also increasing attacks against NATO, accusing it of leading to Alliance countries in a “global conflagration”.

The divisions of the far right on the attitude to adopt towards Moscow could complicate negotiations in the EU at a time when the Twenty-Seven seek to strengthen their defense industry while struggling to release the necessary funds.  

“The stakes are high,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stressed on Sunday, two days after being attacked in Copenhagen, citing “safety and security with the war in Europe”, “climate change”, “the pressure on Europe’s borders”, and the impact of “tech giants”.