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EU elections: Meet the winners and losers in Brussels and across Europe

Hundreds of millions of Europeans are voting to select 720 Members of the European Parliament, and rising support for the far right prompted Emmanuel Macron to call early elections in France.

A first estimate of election results produced by the European Parliament suggests the Green and liberal Renew parties each losing around 20 MEPs each, potentially endangering the pro-European majority needed to back top officials and support EU laws.

The projection, based on exit polls and other analysis, shows the Green party gaining just 53 MEPs, compared to 72 in March 2024.

Renew, spearheaded by France’s President Emmanuel Macron, fell from 102 seats to 82, the figures suggest.

That is confirmed by rising support for the extreme parties, even if some of those have not yet been allocated to political groups.

In France, projections suggest the far-right National Rally (RN) party, has secured a whopping 31.5% of the votes — more than twice the number gained by Macron.

The far-right FPÖ is also predicted to top the poll in Austria, doubling its number of MEPs to six after gaining 27% of votes, according to a poll by the public broadcaster ORF.

Second place is a tight battle between the centre-right ÖVP, with five MEPs (down from seven) and 23.5%, and the socialists of SPÖ, with also five MEPs and 23% of votes.

In Germany, the Christian-Democrat CDU and CSU party is projected to get just about 30% of the vote, similar to 29% in 2019, followed by the far-right Alternative for Germany in second place with 16.5%, up from 11% in 2019. The Social-Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz are following with 14%, and the Greens with 12%. Turnout is at 64%.

Those rightward trends are confirmed in Spain, where Vox is expected to increase its representation by two to three MEPs, while newcomers “The Party Is Over”, also identified as far-right populist, will gain their first ever two or three MEPs, exit polls suggest.

In the Netherlands, where voting took place on Thursday, the exit poll suggests Geert Wilders’ PVV party will scoop seven seats, enabling the GreenLeft-Labour alliance, which is forecast by the exit poll to take eight Dutch seats in the European Parliament, to claim victory.

After four days of voting, the first projections for the new legislative chamber will be updated again after 11pm, when polls close in Italy.

This article will be updated as and when new information arrives.

Controversies

With around 373 million voters from across 27 EU member states – which for the first time includes some 16 and 17-year-olds — it’s the world’s largest multi-state democratic exercise.

The results determine which 720 Members of the European Parliament get to deliberate on EU legislation over the next five years.

It takes place after a turbulent five years dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and full-scale invasion of Ukraine — not to mention a soaring cost of living that came to dominate voter concerns.

They also predict a weakening of the pro-European establishment, with voters turning against the likes of Liberal French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Green party, which currently forms part of Olaf Scholz’s coalition government.

The campaign has not been without its controversies. MEP Maximilian Krah stepped down from his leadership role at the far-right Alternative for Germany after a gaffe in which he appeared to defend the Nazi SS paramilitary group.

Hungary hosted its first TV debate in 18 years in honour of the elections — and newcomer Péter Magyar is threatening the grip on power of the increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Tasks ahead

Among MEPs’ first tasks will be to approve the candidate to lead the European Commission, with incumbent president Ursula von der Leyen hoping to secure a second term.

Electoral dynamics could make that more challenging, as advance polling suggests a weakening in the coalition that narrowly backed her in 2019 — when she won 383 votes, just seven more than she needed.

No single party has a majority in the European Parliament, and votes are often decided issue-by-issue by finding a coalition that commands the required majority.

The chamber has always been dominated by its two large groups, the centre-right European People’s Party and centre-left Socialists.

The two lost their combined majority in the 2019 elections, since when they’ve had to form informal alliances with parties such as the Greens and Liberals — and polls suggest they are unlikely to regain it in 2024.

MEPs will also get to amend or oppose new legislative proposals — leaving the fate of the EU Green Deal, an ambitious set of laws to cut carbon emissions, in the balance.

Each country is allocated a set number of MEPs in line with population, ranging from 96 for Germany, to just six each in Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg.

For the first time since direct elections began in 1979, the count won’t include the UK — whose 73 MEPs left after Brexit day in February 2020.

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