All eyes on results of European parliament election - GulfToday

All eyes on results of European parliament election


Giorgia Meloni.

Voters across the European Union are going to the polls on the final day of voting for the European parliamentary elections to choose their representatives for the next five-year term. Polls opened in 20 EU countries early Sunday for the June 6-9 elections for a new European Parliament, the legislative branch of the 27-member bloc. Millions of Europeans have been casting their ballots this week in one of the world’s biggest democratic elections.

Far-right parties are looking to gain more power amid a rise in the cost of living and farmers’ discontent, while the wars in Gaza and Ukraine are also key topics weighing on the minds of voters.

The economy, jobs, poverty and social exclusion, public health, climate change and the future of Europe are also prominent issues. Official results are not expected before the last polling stations in all 27 EU nations close late Sunday. Currently: An assault on the Danish prime minister is the latest in a recent surge in political violence in Europe.

Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tells the EU’s traditional center parties their time is up. The European Parliament election gives political parties in Germany their first nationwide test since center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government took office at the end of 2021. Pre-election surveys suggested that the mainstream conservative opposition, the Union bloc, can expect to remain Germany’s strongest force in the EU legislature.

Olaf Scholz Olaf Scholz.

They predict weak results for the three parties in Scholz’s quarrelsome governing coalition, which has become very unpopular. The far-right Alternative for Germany can expect gains compared with the 11% of the vote it won in 2019, but its performance may be hampered by a string of setbacks in recent months, including scandals surrounding its two lead candidates for the European Parliament.

Germany elects 96 of the 720 lawmakers who will make up Europe’s new Parliament, the biggest single share. Voter Laura Simon said in Berlin: “I do hope that we will manage to avoid a shift to the right and that Europe will somehow remain united.”

Many Hungarian view the election as a referendum on the popularity of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose illiberal policies and his support for Russia have pushed him to the margins of the European Union. While Fidesz has dominated Hungarian politics since 2010, many Hungarians are deeply dissatisfied with the direction the country is going, and hope to deal a blow to Orbán by supporting one of the most formidable challengers he’s ever faced.

Péter Magyar, a 43-year-old lawyer and former insider within Orbán’s party, has built up Hungary’s strongest opposition party in a matter of months and hopes to use a good showing in Sunday’s elections to propel himself and his movement toward defeating the prime minister in the next national ballot scheduled for 2026. Orbán’s governing Fidesz party is expected to win the largest share of the vote after campaigning heavily on fears that the war in neighboring Ukraine could escalate to involve Hungary directly.

Hungary is set to take over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency next month. Poland — Poles are voting at a time of great insecurity for the nation, which is located along the eastern flank of both the European Union and NATO. The war just across the border in Ukraine has created fears that if Russia were to prevail, Poland and neighboring nations that were once under Moscow’s control could be targeted next. A migration crisis is also playing out along another stretch of the eastern border with Belarus. Poland accuses Belarus and Russia of luring large numbers of migrants to the border to create instability. The crisis has been deadly, with a migrant recently stabbing to death a Polish soldier. Dozens of migrants, if not more, have also died in the swampy forest area since 2021. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has stressed national security, promising to strengthen border controls as he seeks a good showing for his centrist, pro-EU party.

Associated Press

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