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Far right makes strong gains at EU elections as liberals and Greens lose seats, early data shows

In Business
June 09, 2024

A woman casts her ballot paper for the European elections at a polling station.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Populist, far-right parties won record support in this year’s European Parliament elections, early exit polls and estimates indicated on Sunday.

The far-right Identity and Democracy group made major gains, while the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists saw a slight uptick in votes, according to the first official projection released by the EU at 8:30 p.m. local time.

The center-right European People’s Party was once again projected to win the most parliamentary seats, with a marginally bigger lead than before. Allied centrist groups, with the EPP the largest of them, were set to retain a majority in the Parliament despite the surge from the far right.

The liberal Renew Europe and the Greens/European Free Alliance, meanwhile, were both set to lose a significant number of seats.

Here is the early 2024 vote breakdown, versus the previous parliament:

  • European People’s Party (EPP) — 186 seats, up from 176
  • Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D) — 133 seats, down from 139
  • Renew Europe (RE) — 82 seats, down from 102
  • European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) — 70 seats, up from 69
  • Identity and Democracy (ID) — 60 seats, up from 49
  • Greens/European Free Alliance — 53 seats, down from 71
  • The Left — 36 seats, down from 37
  • Non-attached members (NI) — 50 seats, down from 62

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission and an EPP member, said her party had once again shown itself to be the “strongest” in Parliament.

“We were determined, we were united, and now we won the European elections. Voters have entrusted us with a very strong mandate,” von der Leyen said during a press conference, shortly after the preliminary results were announced.

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The projections on Sunday followed a four-day, EU-wide vote. Over 400 million people across the EU’s 27 member states were eligible to vote for the next Parliament — one of three institutions at the heart of the EU.

Just over half (51%) of those eligible cast their vote, early estimates suggested — broadly in line with 2019 levels. Voter turnout has been an ongoing sticking point in EU elections, with electoral disengagement and hot weather among the reasons for voters staying away from the polls.

The European Parliament, which is responsible for deciding EU legislation, is the only directed elected institution within the bloc. It is made up of Members of European Parliament (MEPs), who are elected by each member state and come together to form European party groups.

The Parliament also plays a role when it comes to the EU’s budget, which it needs to approve and monitor, and elects the president of the European Commission, one of the key roles within the EU.

The incoming parliament has 720 seats, with the most populous states responsible for electing the most MEPs. Germany holds the top spot with 96, while Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta each have six.

-CNBC’s Sophie Kiderlin contributed to this article.

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