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Illustration of vote being cast with European Union symbol. Voting for the European Parliament concluded Sunday, and as final tallies are being calculated, it is clear that right-wing nationalist parties gained ground, though center-right parties will continue to control the most seats.

Illustration by iStock, Security Management

European Elections: Center Holds, But Far Right Makes Gains

Voting for the European Parliament concluded Sunday, and as final tallies are being calculated, it is clear that right-wing nationalist parties gained ground, though center-right parties will continue to control the most seats. The Green Party and France’s centrist party affiliated with President Emmanuel Macron lost the most seats.

One of the two legislative bodies of the European Union, the 720-seat European Parliament (EP) holds elections every five years. Seats are apportioned by a population formula where the largest of the EU’s 27 member states have the most members, but the smallest states have outsize influence relative to their populations.  As The Washington Post reported, the “elections are a gargantuan democratic exercise that will set the continent’s political tone for the next five years.”

Here's a quick rundown of results from different countries and regions.


Perhaps the biggest news concerning the elections came from France. Members of the National Rally (RN) party led by Marine Le Pen and upstart Jordan Bardella were by far the lead vote-getters in the country with 31.4 percent of the vote. Considered one of the far-right parties in France, the RN is primarily known for positions opposing immigration, expelling migrants, and providing preferential treatment to French nationals.

As a result of the EP elections, Macron gambled his political future by dissolving the French parliament and calling for snap elections for the lower house. The first round of elections will be on 30 June followed by a runoff on 7 July.

“Macron’s shock decision does offer the increasingly popular far right a real shot at power… amounting to a roll of the dice on his political future,” Reuters reported. As a backdrop to the potential political upheaval in the country, Paris will open the Summer Olympics on 26 July.

Germany and Spain

As the most populous country in the EU, no country had more EP seats up for grabs than Germany. Unlike France, where the far right overtook the centrists by a wide margin, Germany provided a closer reflection of the overall EP vote. The far-right Alternative for Germay (AfD) party made significant gains compared to previous elections, but remained significantly behind the center-right Christian Democrats party.

The election is “a sharp rebuke to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing three-party coalition,”  The New York Times reported. However, displaying that Scholz and his governing coalition remain powerful, Scholz rejected calls from the far-right to follow France’s lead by calling for new elections in Germany. Prior to the EP elections, the AfD had been floundering, being labeled extremist by the government and the courts, promoting scandal-ridden candidates, and, according to the Times reporting, with three-quarters of Germans saying the party posed a threat to democracy.

“It’s remarkable that the party sort of rose again from the ashes,” a German expert told the Times.

A similar pattern occurred in Spain, with the center-right maintaining an edge, though in the face of a surging far right.

Nordic Countries

The Nordic members of the EU—Denmark, Sweden, and Finland—offer a contrast to France and Germany. In each of those countries, far-right parties lost ground to centrist and left-wing parties. This was particularly true in Denmark, which marked a bright spot for the Green party in an otherwise dismal election for the party.


Italy solidified its support of the Brothers of Italy, the far-right party of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Meloni picked up support mostly from more extreme right-wing parties, while centrists in the country maintained a rough status quo. The shift makes Meloni and her party one of the most powerful in the EP, ending up with 23 to 25 seats—an increase of 17 to 19 compared to the 2019 EP elections.

Austria and Hungary

The far right surpassed centrist parties in vote totals in Austria, setting the stage for close elections being held in September. Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, known to be openly hostile to Western influences, saw a slight erosion of support, but still managed to secure more than half of the country’s delegates to the EP.

Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia

Center and center-right parties in the countries bordering Ukraine, Russia, and Russia-aligned Belarus, maintained their majorities, renewing their commitment to a strong European coalition.