Far-right parties surge in EU elections



The European Union parliamentary elections witnessed a notable surge in support for far-right parties, dealing significant blows to established figures such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. Despite mainstream parties retaining control of the 705-member European Parliament, the shift towards the right across the 27-member bloc underscored the enduring influence of anti-establishment sentiments.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally achieved a resounding victory over Macron’s centrist Renaissance, prompting Macron to call for snap legislative elections in a risky attempt to regain political footing. Le Pen’s party was projected to secure roughly 33% of the vote, more than double Macron’s tally, signalling a strong mandate for their nationalist agenda focused on issues like immigration.

Acknowledging the magnitude of the defeat, Macron pledged to address the concerns voiced by voters, emphasising the need for a clear majority to govern effectively. Similarly, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) secured second place in Germany, signalling its growing strength ahead of the federal election. Despite the conservative alliance’s lead in the polls, the AfD’s significant gains highlight the shifting dynamics within Germany’s political landscape.

The surge of far-right parties extends beyond France and Germany, with Austria’s Freedom Party and Italy’s Brothers of Italy also making substantial gains. However, while these parties capitalise on anti-immigration and nationalist sentiments, there remains a fragmentation within the far-right camp, as evidenced by their diverse agendas and internal divisions. While mainstream and pro-European groups maintain dominance in the European Parliament, the rise of far-right parties poses challenges to cohesive policymaking and underscores the need for unity among centrist forces to uphold the values of a strong Europe.