Early data shows rise of far right in European elections

European Parliament elections concluded in 27 countries on Sunday with early forecasts pointing to a strong showing for far-right parties, a result that, if confirmed, would be a stark measure of voter discontent and a stark rebuke of mainstream European politics.

The votes show a clear cooling of the mainstream in European politics. If confirmed, it could make it harder for the European Parliament to form a majority to pass laws and would make negotiations on divisive issues more difficult. More broadly, they underscore that the far-right's expanding challenge to the center over the past decade has yet to peak.

The projected results do not bode well for centrist leaders and their parties across Europe, including France and Germany, the continent’s two largest countries, considered the engines of Europe’s experiment in centralized national sovereignty.

The results were particularly frustrating for French President Emmanuel Macron, who A state dinner in Paris for President BidenPreliminary vote counts predict that Emmanuel Macron's Ennahda party will receive about half the support of the far-right National Rally (led by Marine Le Pen), which is expected to win more than 30% of the votes.

The result could give Ms. Le Pen, once derided by Mr. Macron as a threat to the values ​​of the French Republic, her strongest position yet to challenge France’s mainstream parties in a presidential election in three years’ time, when the term-limited Mr. Macron must step down.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has been officially listed as a “suspected” extremist group by German authorities, also expressed strong sentiment.

Forecasts show the AfD getting around 16 percent of the vote, putting it behind the mainstream conservative Christian Democratic Union but ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats to become Germany's second-largest party.

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Right-wing parties are now in power in seven of the 27 EU countries, either alone or as part of a coalition. They have gained support across the continent as voters become more concerned with nationalism and identity, often tied to immigration and some of the culture war politics around gender and LGBTQ issues that have also gained traction in the United States.

The strong showing by the far right could even reverberate in the United States, where it is expected to embolden political forces loyal to former President Donald J. Trump as he seeks re-election in the Nov. 5 election.

Other factors contributing to the rise of the right include persistent anger over coronavirus-era policies and inflation caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which has forced Europe to abandon cheap Russian energy.

Some far-right voices in the European Parliament support Russia and want to push for a quick peace deal with Ukraine on Russia's terms. Their voices could affect the EU's so far unwavering support for Kiev, namely billions of dollars in arms and reconstruction funds and a path to joining the European Union.

EU leaders have already watered down environmental policy and overhauled the bloc’s immigration policy to address the concerns of both traditional conservative and far-right voters, but electoral success for more radical far-right parties could lead to more changes.

New, more definitive figures based on actual vote counts are expected to be released later Sunday evening.

Aurelien Brittain Reporting from Paris also contributed.

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