Elections 2024: Far-right surges in Europe, conservative EPP remains largest party

As polls predicted, far-right parties won European elections across the continent. Especially in Western Europe, the far right made big gains, even forcing French president Emmanuel Macron to dissolve parliament and announce early elections.

In Flanders, Vlaams Belang won more votes than any other party. In Germany, the AfD became the country's second largest party. In Italy, prime minister Giorgia Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia won 28.9 per cent of the vote, far ahead of all other parties.

The biggest shock to the traditional parties came in France, where the Rassemblement National (RN) won 32 per cent of the vote, more than twice as much as Macron's party.

In response to the crushing defeat, Macron announced the dissolution of the Assemblée nationale, the lower house of the French parliament, on Sunday evening. Early parliamentary elections will be held on 30 June, with a second round on 7 July. "The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our country," Macron said in his speech.

EPP remains largest party

Despite the far-right's gains, pro-European parties appear set to retain their majority. The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) was the big winner among Europe's mainstream parties, remaining the largest in the bloc.

"A majority cannot be formed without the EPP. Together with others, we will build a bastion against the extremes of left and right," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday evening from the EPP headquarters in Brussels.

"We will build a bastion against the extremes of left and right"

The EPP is looking to the socialist and liberal groups to form a "pro-European majority", said EPP leader Manfred Weber, which would amount to a majority of around 64 per cent, a 5 per cent drop compared to 2019.

That pro-European majority will most likely hinge on the re-election of Von der Leyen as Commission president. She needs the support of all national governments and an absolute majority in the European Parliament, a big test for the potential coalition.

European markets reacted negatively to the election results. The French stock exchange saw the biggest fall, opening down 2.37 per cent. The value of the euro also fell, losing 0.5 per cent against the dollar.


French far-right Rassemblement National party leader Marine Le Pen and party president Jordan Bardella © PHOTO JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

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