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Jun 7, 2024, 7:23am EDT
politicsEurope
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Semafor Signals

European Parliament elections hinge on local politics

Insights from Politico, the Financial Times, and Euronews

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A person walks towards a polling station to vote in the European Union's parliamentary elections, in Nijmegen, Netherlands, June 6, 2024. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters
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Voting for the multi-day European Parliament election is under way in the European Union’s 27 member states but the focus remains local, with votes largely being fought over national issues.

Far-right parties are expected to make gains in a vote that has the potential to reshape how the EU operates. Exit polls in the Netherlands, which voted Thursday, shows a surge in popularity for an anti-immigration party while left-leaning parties are projected to have narrowly won the most seats, Al Jazeera reported.

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Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Far-right surge tilts normal order on its head

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Politico

Right-wing rhetoric is on the rise in Europe, a region historically known for its left-leaning political landscape. The EU could be facing its “Donald Trump moment,” Politico noted. France’s far-right National Party is surging, as is the controversial euroskeptic AfD (Alternative for Germany) in Germany. The bloc is therefore on track to admit more extreme right-wing members of parliament than ever before. Those parties are “too fractious” to entirely upend how politics operates in Europe, but “after the votes are counted on Sunday night, the sheer fact of their success will trigger a political upheaval equivalent to that caused by Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president in 2016,” it said.

Ursula von der Leyen fights to keep her role

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Financial Times

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is campaigning for a second five-year term as the bloc’s leader, but has run a campaign that has failed to really resonate with voters, the Financial Times noted, given its similarity to her opponent, Nicolas Schmit, who was part of the same commission administration. Von der Leyen hopes to capture some of the right-wing voices that will join this iteration of the bloc — a plan that has upset left-leaning parties, who have pledged not to support her if she does. “The centre should hold but parliament will be more volatile and harder to get compromises,” one EU diplomat told the FT.

Backlash to climate policies could be driving far-right rise

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Euronews

It is possible that some of the far-right’s success during this campaign is due to “greenlash,” Euronews noted. In several European countries, right-wing parties that are seeing boosts in their polls are opposed to green deals being carved out by von der Leyen’s administration. The Green Party is set to lose around a third of its seats, Euronews reported — but climate policies aren’t the entire driving force behind the right-wing surge. A survey showed that “over three-quarters of Europeans remain deeply concerned about the direct effects of environmental issues on their everyday lives and health,” the outlet wrote.

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