Eine Frau wirft in einem Wahllokal im Bezirk Lichtenberg ihren Wahlzettel für die Europawahl ein
© picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

The 2024 European elections were characterised by a high voter turnout and intense political debates. Despite the rise of extreme right-wing and left-wing parties, the political centre was able to maintain its position. This ensures the continuation of European integration, the protection of democratic values and increased defence cooperation. A clear signal to the world: the EU remains a stable and unified force.

The European elections are experiencing a coming-of-age

The elections are about something. Seismic events in the past years, such as Great Britain actually leaving the EU, the COVID-19 crisis, Europe-wide climate protests, the war in Ukraine, the war on Europe’s doorstep in the Middle East, the looming possibility of a re-election of Donald Trump in the USA, the rise of the extreme right in practically all EU member states, in some countries also the extreme left, and here and there even their participation in government, have constituted a new level of political concern throughout the European society.

There is an increased awareness that the European way of life is at stake, in other words: the protection of individual liberties, an open and tolerant society, the rule of law, a social market economy, environmental sustainability, the protection of minorities, and a responsible and reliable presence of the EU on the world stage. There is also a realisation that the danger comes not only from outside, but also from within, with some governments openly questioning the value of the liberal democracy, and, in many countries, a rise of parties that question these values and attempt to undermine an otherwise tolerant and open society.

It may be harsh to put it like this, but in comparison, previous European elections were rather ‘sedate affairs’. There were political differences between the different parties and candidates, but overall, there was widespread agreement on where the European Union should be headed, perhaps with Britain being the only odd one out. This led to stability and predictability. At the same time, it meant that for voters, there were no ‘hot’ European debates that made these elections exciting. This may well have been a reason for the low voting turnouts across the continent. This, however, has radically changed in the past couple of years.

One important element was the realisation that our climate is changing rapidly for the worse and that stern measures need to be taken to protect it. Particularly among young people, this was a mobilising factor in becoming politically aware and active. Their pressure resulted in a vast number of policy initiatives, and at the European level in a “Green Deal” that promotes far-reaching measures to limit emissions into the atmosphere (such as fossil fuels and pollution caused by building works and agriculture). The Green Deal is not without opposition, which became most clear in the recent farmer’s protests.

Even more impactful was Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Not only did this cause a hitherto unknown—and to many. surprising—degree of European unity in the response, it also made EU citizens realise that their comfortable lives were not automatically guaranteed and would require an effort unseen in previous decades. More recently, the discovery that both Russia and also China are actively influencing and undermining democratic decision-making processes in EU member states and the European institutions, including the European Parliament, by means fair and foul, has made this debate even sharper.

Everybody knows that these European elections will influence the political direction of the Union. A big increase of the support for extremist parties, as we see both on the left and especially on the right, will strengthen centrifugal forces that drive EU member states apart.

In the past five years, a coalition of Christian-democrats, social-democrats and liberals created a degree of stability, occasionally supported by the Greens. The big question in these elections is: will the centre hold, or will the extremes get a foot in the door?

Although in some countries, such as Germany and France, the extreme right had a strong result, overall, their gains were less than predicted and it would be an exaggeration to talk of a ‘right-wing surge’. In other words, this was not a good evening for Putin and Xi, because despite their best efforts, the political centre (EPP, S&D, and Renew) has held and will continue to build a pro-European majority. They do not even need the votes of the Greens, who experienced a weak election outcome.

The political consequences of this outcome are immediate. It means that the support for Ukraine in their and the EU’s struggle against the illegal Russian invasion will continue along with increased European defence cooperation. It means that there will remain an open attitude to further enlargement of the Union towards countries such as the West Balkans, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. And it means a deepening European cooperation and preservation of liberalism—democracy and civil rights will remain paramount. That is no small beer. Now, it is necessary that this pro-European majority gets its affairs in order as soon as possible, particularly in forming the new European Commission, which needs to give a clear signal both to EU citizens and to the outside world that it means business. In a situation where the European Council (the governments) is becoming more volatile, which has become more obvious with Sunday’s national election results in Belgium, recently in the Netherlands, and the upcoming French elections that are facing an unsure outcome, it is important that the Parliament strengthens the position of the European Commission so that it has the opportunity to do so.

At the same time, the EPP is the winner of these elections, and the left has been weakened. This may well have consequences in the legislative processes, particularly in the implementation of environmental policies and strengthening the EU’s economic competitiveness.

For Renew Europe, it was a mixed result. The liberal prime minister of Belgium, Alexander de Croo, resigned because of the bad results of the Flemish liberals in the national elections that took place on the same day (although they did well in the European elections). The bad results for his Renaissance Party prompted French President Macron to call fresh national elections that will take place in six weeks’ time. Both in France and in Spain, the results were bad for the Renew parties, but overall, the ALDE parties did not at all fare badly and could get a result that might be as good as in 2014. Renew will remain the third largest group in the European Parliament.

  • As experts had already anticipated, the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has emerged as the strongest Austrian force in the European Parliament, with an 8% increase in votes compared to the previous European election, now holding 6 seats. For the FPÖ, this is their first nationwide success, boosting morale within the party for the upcoming National Council elections in 2024, where they hope to have a chance at scoring the Chancellor’s position. On the other hand, Austria’s current ruling party, the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), lost nearly 10% of its votes, dropping to 5 seats. The Greens also saw a slight decline, now holding 2 seats. Conversely, the liberal party New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS) improved slightly, securing just over 10% of the vote and also receiving 2 seats.

    The election campaign was dominated by the FPÖ's particularly vocal euro-scepticism and the counter-reaction from non-populist parties proclaiming resistance against the right. Migration issues were also central, especially the protection of the EU's external borders and the handling of asylum seekers and migrants without EU residency permits. Other frequent, but less central topics included EU-wide transportation, climate protection, EU defence policy, and EU enlargement. 68% of the Austrian population considered the European election to be of moderate to high importance. In the broader context, the election outcome in Austria contributes to the strengthening of right-wing forces in the European Parliament and its Identity and Democracy (ID) faction. This increases the likelihood of right-wing alliances and fragmentation of national interests, likely weakening consensus on European issues, increasing focus on migration and identity issues, and decreasing commitment to climate goals.

  • In Belgium, the European elections were overshadowed by simultaneous national parliamentary elections and regional parliamentary elections in Flanders and Wallonia, as well as in the Brussels-Capital Region. The election campaign was dominated almost exclusively by national issues, particularly Belgium's cohesion as a nation-state, questions about Belgium's economic future, and social issues.

    Two right-wing parties from Flanders are the Belgian winners of the European elections: the anti-European, right-wing extremist, and separatist Vlaams Belang (VB) and the pragmatic right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) each retained their 3 seats in the European Parliament but sit in different factions. The third-strongest force is the French-speaking liberal party Mouvement Réformateur (MR), which increased its representation from 2 to 3 seats. A similar balance of power was also evident in the results of the national parliamentary elections; however, the election winner N-VA has ruled out any cooperation with VB even at the national level.

    The Flemish liberal party Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open VLD) lost 4.3% of the vote, reducing them to only one seat in the European Parliament. However, due to the increase in votes for MR, Belgium's number of seats in the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament remains unchanged. In addition to the loss for Open VLD, the two green parties in Belgium (Groen, Flemish-speaking; Ecolo, French-speaking) also performed significantly worse than expected. Both parties also dropped to just one seat in the European Parliament, symbolizing the declining significance of climate issues in Belgian politics.

    The extended impact of the election results (e.g., for Germany and other EU member states) is particularly evident in the context of the general strengthening of right-wing forces in the European Parliament. There is an increased likelihood of an increase in right-wing alliances, euroscepticism, and the introduction of nationalist agendas into European decision-making.

  • In Bulgaria, the European elections brought a comeback for long-time Prime Minister Boiko Borisov and his conservative GERB party with an expected 23.5 percent. In second place with 14.7 percent is the MRF of the Turkish minority, which offers itself as a government partner for the conservatives. Close behind, with currently 14.4 percent: the Liberal Reform Alliance PP-DB - with a significant loss of votes. Hristo Ivanov, leader of the reform party Da Bulgaria, drew the line and resigned. The PP reformers conceded defeat and are now preparing for an opposition role. In Brussels, they are expected to join the Renew faction. The turnout was sobering: After six rounds of voting in three years, only less than a third of the electorate turned out to vote.

  • With a voter turnout of 21.3 per cent, Croatia is likely to be one of the worst performers in this European election. Although the still young republic has experienced unprecedented growth in prosperity since joining the EU in 2013, hardly anyone in the country of 3.8 million people cares about ‘Europe’ - and why should they, given that EU funding is flowing in? After a parliamentary election in April, from which the permanently governing national-conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) emerged as the winner, even fewer people than before felt like using their vote.

    The European election result mirrors that of the recent national parliamentary election almost one-to-one: the HDZ won 34.6% (parliamentary election: 34.4%), the Social Democrats SDP 25.9% (parliamentary election: 25.4%). This means that the national-conservative HDZ has 6 of the 12 Croatian seats in the European Parliament, while the SDP has four. The fragmented Liberals, many of whose parties had joined forces in a joint list, were unlucky: while the green Možemo movement won a seat in the European Parliament with 5.9%, the Liberal list came away empty-handed with just 5.6%.

  • After an intense contest, the DISY (EPP) party of Prime Minister Nikos Christodoulidis was able to prevail against its direct opponent AKEL (The Left). With 24.8% of the vote, DISY won two seats in the new parliament, while AKEL won only one. Surprisingly, YouTuber Fidias Panayiotou, who says of himself that he knows nothing about politics but wanted to send a signal against the ‘nerds’ in Brussels by running as an individual candidate, ended up in third place. With 11.2 %, the far-right party ELAM will also send one of the six Cypriot MEPs for the first time. The liberal party of Cyprus (DEPA) achieved a result of only 2.2 % and no seat in the European Parliament.

    In this year's election, more Turkish-speaking Cypriots than ever before stood as candidates across all parties. The election campaign was characterised by a mixture of national and European issues. The issue of migration was particularly prominent; the war in the Gaza Strip and the geographical proximity to Syria, Lebanon and Israel recently have led to a rapid increase in the number of people arriving to Cyprus by sea.

  • In the Czech Republic, the Pirates became the second-largest party in the European elections. Despite the Pirátská strana (Pirate Party) having ruled in coalition with the conservative ODS, KDU-ČSL, and TOP 09 since the last parliamentary elections, the Pirates gained almost five percentage points to finish with 15.8% in the European elections. However, the conservative ODS of Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala remains the strongest force in the country, with 20.9%. KDU-ČSL, TOP 09, and the liberal STAN collectively secured 18.7%.


    The Social Democracy (ČSSD), who are part of the current government coalition, only managed 4.3%, while the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) and the nationalist populist SPD also failed to clear the 5% threshold. The far-right populist Trikolóra and Přísaha narrowly made it past the threshold, each securing 5.3% and 5.1%, respectively.

    The opposition parties ANO (16.2%) and KDU-ČSL (12.8%) also won seats in the European Parliament. The turnout was 27.68%.

  • In a surprising turn, the Socialist People's Party (SF; Greens/EFA) became Denmark’s largest party in the European elections, garnering 17.4% of the vote, earning three seats in the European Parliament. The Social Democrats (S; S&D) also secured three seats despite significant losses (-5.9%). The liberal parties had mixed results: the former ruling party Venstre (V; Renew) suffered a major loss (-8.8%), as did the smaller Radikale Venstre (RV; Renew) (-3.0%). The newly established Moderates (M; Renew) and Denmark's Democrats (DD; non-affiliated), both led by former Venstre members, won seats in the Parliament, further fragmenting the political landscape, especially among liberal forces.

    Meanwhile, the Liberal Alliance (LA; EPP) gained ground and entered the European Parliament for the first time. Populist parties like the Danish People's Party (DF; ID) retained their seats but lost significant influence compared to the previous election.

    The campaign was primarily driven by national issues, although European topics such as climate and migration also played a role. Overall, Denmark remains pro-European, though its political system has become more fragmented. The results might stabilize Denmark's position in the EU.

  • The liberal Estonian Reform Party of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Renew Europe Group), suffered a heavy defeat, losing around ten percentage points compared to five years ago, finishing with a meager 17.9%, and sending only one representative to the European Parliament. The conservative Isamaa party took the top spot with 21.6% of the vote, securing two seats. The Social Democratic Party came in second with 19.3%, maintaining their two seats. The Conservative People's Party (14.9%, one seat) and the Estonian Centre Party (12.4%, one seat), also part of the Renew Europe family, performed worse than the Liberals. The voter turnout was 37.7%.

  • Following the Nordic trend, Finland's left made surprising gains at the expense of the far-right. The big winner of the night was the Left Alliance, which gained a sensational 10.4%, now holding three seats with 17.3% of the vote. Party leader Li Andersson, the 37-year-old former Minister of Education, received a record number of 247,604 votes, the highest ever in any Finnish European elections. However, the largest party remains Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's National Coalition Party, which garnered around a quarter of the votes and will send four representatives to Brussels.

    Both parties were rewarded for campaigns focused on foreign and security policy and environmental issues. The National Coalition Party positioned itself as the safe choice for the former, while the Left Alliance capitalized on its opposition role against the government's environmental and economic reforms.

    The biggest loser of the election was the Finns Party. The right-wing populists' share of the vote fell by 6.2 percentage points to 7.6%, losing them one of their two seats. Finland's liberal parties, the Centre Party and the Swedish People's Party, maintained their election results and will again send two (Centre), resp. one (SPP) representatives to Brussels.

  • In France, the Liberals are the clear losers of this European election: Besoin d’Europe ("Need for Europe"), the joint list of centrist parties Renaissance, MODEM, Horizons, Radical Party, and UDI, becomes the second strongest force with 14.6%, closely followed by the social democratic list Réveiller l’Europe ("Awaken Europe") with 13.8%. Both parties secure 13 seats in the European Parliament. The Liberals lose 10 seats compared to the last election in 2019 – a severe setback. The clear winner in France is the right-wing populist Rassemblement National (RN) with 31.5%. With a gain of 12 seats, the party will now be represented with  30 seats in the European Parliament. On election night, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and new national elections for 30 June, 2024.

  • The Free Democratic Party (FDP) entered the election campaign with their lead candidate Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who is also the lead candidate for the European liberal party ALDE. Compared to the 2019 election results, the Liberals gained around 32,000 votes. Due to the higher voter turnout (64.78%), their percentage result decreased slightly from 5.4% to 5.2% compared to the last European elections, but the FDP defended their 5 seats in the European Parliament. Liberal leader, Christian Lindner sees the result as a "strong signal of stabilization, which we also want to use politically". The Liberals stand for a free, strong, and resilient Europe and advocate for sound financial policies, technological openness, and progress.

    Germany’s ‘traffic light coalition’ partners each suffered heavy losses: the social-democratic SPD achieved historically poor results in the European elections with only 13.9%; the Greens were unable to maintain their record election results of 2019 and lost 8.6 percentage points (dropping to 11.9%). The centre-right Christian Democrats, together with the conservative Bavarian CSU, received a total of 30% of the vote, noting a slight improvement (+1.1 percentage points).

    The high score of the right-wing populist AfD (Alternative for Germany) is striking: they significantly improved their result to 15.9% and are thus the second strongest force – in several eastern German states, the AfD even became the strongest force. The party gained the most votes from the 16- to 24-year-old voter group (an increase of 11 percentage points to 16%). On the left, the newly formed Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) secured 6.2%. For the Liberals, the increase in votes for parties at the political extremes is an incentive to make progress on important issues such as strengthening the economy, addressing security threats, and managing migration. In view of the results in other EU states, FDP lead candidate Strack-Zimmermann commented that "there is a broad centre, which has the majority, also compared to the right and left. And this democratic majority must stand together against radical tendencies".

  • Georgian-European relations have hit a historic low point since the recent adoption of the "Agent Law" (a law that can designate Western NGOs as ‘foreign agents’). Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron were particularly outspoken critics. The Georgian government could not conceal its joy at the loss of votes for their parties at the European elections. They explain the strengthened conservatives and right-wing parties as a confirmation of their own neo-conservative course, which is strongly oriented towards Russia. The most significant criticism of Georgia's government has always come from across party lines in the European Parliament. The fact that parties there continue to have a majority that condemns Georgia's new course is often overlooked. Relations with the EU could become even more antagonistic if, under pressure from strengthened right-wing conservative parties, the European Council becomes less expansionist. However, this would actually suit the Georgian authorities, who seem to have no genuine interest in EU membership. They would then have to submit to European standards of the rule of law, which would endanger their power.

  • As expected, the centre-right Néa Dimokratía (EPP), led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, became the strongest party in Greece with 28.3%, securing 7 seats in the new European Parliament. It is well ahead of the opposition party SYRIZA (The Left), which won a total of 4 seats with 14.9 %. PASOK (S&D) secured third place with 12.8%. There were significant gains for the right-wing populist party Elliniki Lisi (‘Hellenic Solution’, ECR) with 9.3 % and the Communist Party (NI) with 9.25 %. Both parties received 2 seats each in the new parliament.

    Greece does not have an established liberal party in the tradition of economic liberalism and social progress. This is partly due to the representation by a liberal wing in the conservative government. In 2024, Andreas Loverdos founded the politically liberal, modernising and reforming Party of Democrats (Dimokrátes) with a commitment to Renew Europe. The party received 1.45% of the vote and thus no seat in the new parliament.

    The European elections in Greece centred mainly on national issues such as persistent inflation, the Prespa agreement and rule of law deficits in government action. Despite increasing polarisation, the camp of pro-European parties has grown overall in recent years. As a small country, Greece benefits from its membership of the EU, for example in agricultural policy and the distribution of subsidies.

  • As expected, first place in Hungary goes to the national-conservative and right-wing populist Fidesz party of long-term Prime Minister Victor Orbán. It achieved 44.6% of the vote and sends 11 MEPs to the new European Parliament. However, the  secret winner of the election is the newly founded Tisza (Respect and Freedom) party of Peter Magyar, a renegade Orbán supporter who has criticised his former party colleague's system in the media in recent weeks and months. Tisza achieved around 30%, or 7 seats. A centre-left alliance including the social-democratic DK and the Greens Party achieved 8.1% (2 seats). Painfully for the Renew Europe family, the liberal Momentum Movement won just 3.7 per cent. It lost both of its seats and will no longer be represented in the European Parliament.

    For Orbán and his party colleagues, the Fidesz result is a wake-up call. 44.6% is rather meagre compared to the results in nationwide elections in recent years. Many  of its former voters seem to have defected to Tisza, which shows that Fidesz is no longer unbeatable. Anticipating this, the Orbán team's European campaign had not only focussed on the issue of war and peace, but was also directed against the Magyar, the former Acolyte. His success may be promising insofar as it has the potential to weaken the Orbán system. However, his programme is not substantially different from Orban's. After all, he favours joining the EPP group. Fidesz was expelled from this group a few years ago.

  • Due to Ireland's complex counting system, complete results are not available yet even three days after the count began. Only Sean Kelly, a member of the christian-democratic Fine Gael, has secured a seat in the European Parliament in the first counting process. This means one of Ireland's 14 seats is filled at the time of writing.

    Currently, it is expected that the liberal Fianna Fáil (Renew Europe) and Fine Gael (EPP) will be the winners of the EU and concurrent local elections, each likely to secure up to four seats in the European Parliament. The Green Party (Greens/EFA) and Sinn Féin (The Left) are projected to be the losers, each potentially losing one seat, which for the Green Party would mean no longer being represented in the European Parliament. It is unclear whether polarising members like Mick Wallace of Independents 4 Change (The Left) will return to the European Parliament, and Clare Daly from the same party has  already lost her seat.

    A rightward shift is not evident in Ireland, where the first right-wing and far-right parties were established only after Brexit.

    For the parliamentary elections in Ireland next spring, this suggests that the current coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party is unlikely to continue. Sinn Féin is also expected to lose votes after four very successful years.

  • The big winner of the Italian elections is Giorgia Meloni and her  national-conservative, right-wing populist Fratelli d'Italia. They received 28.8% of the vote, an increase of a good three percentage points compared to the national elections in September 2022. The social-democratic Partito Democratico came in at a respectable second place, gaining 5 seats with 24.1%.

    Courted not least by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Meloni demonstrates that she not only holds the reins in Italy, but also wants to hold an even more powerful position in Europe in the future. She is striving for close cooperation with Marine Le Pen, the big winner of the EU elections in France. A female-national conservative power alliance is emerging here, which will gradually make Europe more conservative, if not more decentralised. However, Meloni has also shown in recent years that she supports most EU decisions and can be a reliable international partner.

    It is significant that the two liberal alliances, including the  Piu Europa, Azione and Italia Viva parties, were unable to form a liberal list before the elections and will therefore not be sending any MEPs to Brussels due to a 4% hurdle. It is not so much the substantive political differences, but rather personal animosities between the party leaders that have led to this inability. Together, the sum of the individual results could probably have achieved  a joint list 6 to 7 seats in the new European Parliament, which the liberal group is now sorely lacking.

    One of the key issues in the election campaign was - once again - migration. Meloni claims to be in charge of the EU's tougher migration policy. This was probably partly intended to conceal the sharp rise in the number of migrants arriving in Italy since Meloni took office, despite her rhetoric.

  • Latvia's liberal party Latvijas attīstībai (For Latvia's Development) achieved a notable success, securing 9.3% of the vote, which placed them third and earned them one seat in the European Parliament. In 2019, the party had run as part of the Attīstībai/Par! (Development/For!) coalition, which also won one seat. Latvia is represented by nine members in the European Parliament. Following Sunday's election, two seats go to the liberal-conservative Unity party (25.1%), two to the right-wing National Alliance "All for Latvia!" (22.1%), and one each to the right-wing Latvia First (6.2%), the social-democratic Harmony (7.1%), the moderate left-ecological Progressives (7.4%), and the centrist United List (8.2%), which includes the Green Party.  The voter turnout was 33.82%.

  • In Lithuania, two liberal parties will send representatives to Brussels and Strasbourg. The newly established Freedom Party, participating in its first European election, received 7.9% of the vote. The more established Liberals’ Movement garnered 5.3%, just enough for a second liberal seat in the European Parliament. The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats emerged as the election winners with 20.9% (two seats), followed by the Social Democratic Party of Lithuanian  with 17.6% (two seats). The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union came in third with 9%, securing only one seat. They were followed by the Freedom Party and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (5.9%, one seat), a party representing the Polish minority in the country.

  • The election result in Luxembourg closely resembles that of the 2019 European elections: with 22.9%, the Christian Social People's Party (CSV) of Prime Minister Luc Frieden once again emerged as the strongest force, sending 2 out of a total of 6 Luxembourgish representatives to the European Parliament. The second strongest force is, once again, the social democratic Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP), which also secures one seat.

    The liberal Democratic Party (DP) becomes the third strongest force, securing one representative in the European Parliament. A setback for the political centre: the pragmatic, centrist party Fokus, which was also represented with one seat in the last legislative period in the Renew group, could not garner enough votes. Instead, the right-wing populist party Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR) managed to assert itself with 11.8% and now enters the European Parliament for the first time with one seat. This reflects the European-wide trend towards the right in Luxembourg as well. The green party Déi Gréng also received 11.8% and once again won a seat in the Parliament.

  • As the smallest EU country, Malta elected only six members of the European Parliament (EP). Nevertheless, the country recorded one of the highest voter turnouts (73%). In addition to economic policy issues, migration and Malta's role in the EU were among the most important election topics. Malta's political landscape is dominated by two major parties: the centre-left Partit Laburista (PL), which is part of the S&D group in the EP, and the centre-right  Partit Nazzjonalista (PN), which is part of the EPP group. Both parties are competing for the decisive seats.

    Voting centred on the incumbent Prime Minister Robert Abela (PL) and EP President Roberta Metsola (PN). PN received 42.02% and thus went from two to three seats. Metsola won 80% of her party's votes and a third of all votes cast, making electoral history. PL, on the other hand, lost its fourth seat with 45.26%, meaning that both parties now have three seats each. Support for PL among the population has fallen below 50% for the first time in over 15 years.

  • The Netherlands was the first EU member state to hold elections. The initial election day survey indicated a general trend that was confirmed by the final results on Sunday: right-wing extremists gained ground, but the centre remained stable.

    After a lacklustre election campaign, the joint list of Social Democrats and Greens (GL-PvdA) won the most seats. With 8 mandates (21.6%), they outpaced the 6 seats won by Geert Wilders' right-wing extremist Freedom Party (17.7%). The conservative-liberal VVD lost slightly, dropping from 5 to 4 seats (11.6%), while other coalition partners, the Farmers' Citizen Movement (5.3%) and the centre-right party New Social Contract (3.8%), secured European seats for the first time. At the same time, pro-European parties gained ground, with the social-liberal D66 winning a third seat (8.1%) and Volt being elected for the first time with two representatives (4.9%).

    The voter turnout of just over 46%, the highest since the 1989 European elections, is seen as a significant factor in the pro-European parties' success. Compared to the national elections in November 2023, only 44% of PVV voters cast their ballots, while 78% of GL-PvdA voters returned to the polls. Pro-European parties were better able to mobilise their voters and were rewarded accordingly.

  • In Poland, the results of the EP elections have confirmed the pro-European course that the country embarked on with the parliamentary elections in autumn. The  Civic Coalition led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk won with 37 per cent of the vote (21 seats in the EP). The nationalist-populist, eurosceptic PiS (ECR), the Law and Justice party, finished close behind with 36.2 per cent (twenty seats). The far-right party  Konfederacja (Confederation) did even better than feared (twelve per cent, six seats). Tusk's coalition partners, the  New Left and the Third Way, suffered losses.

    PiS's winning streak, which dominated Polish politics in the years between 2015 and 2023, was broken after it was voted out of government in October and suffered losses in the local elections in April. Nevertheless, the party has always managed to win over a good third of voters.

    One of the key issues in the election campaign was migration. The escalating situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, where illegal crossings have increased in recent weeks and a Polish border guard died shortly before the elections, clearly played into the hands of the right-wing populist parties.

    The parties in Poland have tried to increase the notoriously low voter turnout by nominating high-calibre political figures. Although people could not have been blamed for a certain amount of voter fatigue following the series of votes over the past few months, voter turnout reached its highest level since the country joined the EU two decades ago at just under 41%.

  • From a liberal perspective, Portugal shines as a bright star amidst gloomy weather. The liberal party Iniciativa Liberal (Renew Europe) achieved 9.1% and, for the first time, sends two representatives to Brussels. João Cotrim de Figueiredo, former party leader, and Ana Vasconcelos Martins form a power duo heading to the European capital, providing a strong, rhetorically penetrating voice for classical liberal values. The ideological alignment with the German Liberals is striking, suggesting close cooperation between both groups.

    Surprisingly strong results were achieved by the Socialists (S&D), who had lost the national elections in March. They garnered 32.1%, losing only one seat. Following them is the conservative coalition AD (EPP), with 31.1% of the vote. The right-wing populist party Chega (ID) received 9.8%, marking a dramatic decline compared to the national elections in March of the same year when they received 18.1%.

    Portugal, a profoundly pro-European country, continues to act fiscally responsible even under left-led governments and will remain a key partner for Germany in the upcoming EU legislature. It remains to be seen whether former Prime Minister Antonio Costa, long considered a candidate for a top European job, will succeed Charles Michel as President of the European Council. If Ursula von der Leyen is re-elected as Commission President, it is likely that this position would go to Costa's socialist party family in Europe. Conservative Portuguese Prime Minister Luis Montenegro has already stated that his government would support Costa.

  • In Romania, the local elections dominated the EU election campaign. The grand coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the Conservative Party had moved the local elections in September to the same day as the European elections, purportedly to combat right-wing extremism and ensure political stability. Their strategy was confirmed with a result of 48.70%, as they now hold 90% of the mayoralties nationwide.

    The liberal-conservative opposition coalition, which had hoped for 20%, suffered a heavy defeat with only 8.61%, securing just three EU Parliament seats (down from eight). The leader of the liberal USR party resigned. The REPER party of former Renew leader Dacian Cioloș failed to clear the 5% threshold. The AfD-like parties AUR (ECR) and SOS managed to secure 14.6% and 7.3% of the votes, respectively, meaning Romania will send six right-wing populists to the European Parliament. The ultra-nationalist Noua Dreaptă (New Right) narrowly missed the 5% threshold, remaining at 4.8%.

  • Slovakia had used a similar tactic to neighbouring Poland, trying to lure voters to the polls with politically prominent names. This was successful: at around 35 %, the turnout was higher than at any time since the country joined the EU in 2004.

    The winner is the pro-European liberal party  Progressive Slovakia (PS - Renew Europe). It achieved just under 28% and will send 6MEPs to the Renew Europe Group in the EP. However, the remaining seats will go to representatives of eurosceptic, populist and extremist parties. SMER-SD, the party of Prime Minister Robert Fico, made gains and won 5seats, one more than before. The far-right  Republic Movement party won 2 seats.

    The fact that first place went to the Liberals is highly symbolic. After the parliamentary elections in September last year and the presidential elections in April this year, the EP elections were the third ballot in just a few months. Each election campaign seemed to top the previous one in terms of brutality. The situation seemed to have  escalated completely after an attempt had been made on the life of Prime Minister Fico on 15 May. It was not possible to prove that the perpetrator had any connection to a specific political party. Nevertheless, the governing coalition blamed  PS and the independent media in the country. Shortly before the election day, Fico had addressed the public from his hospital bed via video with corresponding accusations. In the polls following the attack, he was initially able to register a kind of sympathy bonus. However, his party,  SMER-SD, did not become the strongest force in the end.

  • Slovenia has moved to the right. The winner, with just under 31% is the largest opposition party, the right-wing populist  SDS (EPP) of former Prime Minister Janez Janša. The party won four of the nine seats the country is entitled to in the EP. It therefore has twice as many MEPs as before. The liberal Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda - Renew Europe), the largest party in Prime Minister Robert Golob's ruling centre-left coalition, received just 22.1% (2 seats).

    This result is not surprising. The Golob government has been losing support in the polls for some time. One of the two new MEPs from the Freedom Movement is Irena Joveva. She was able to defend her mandate. The current defence minister and former prime minister Marjan Šarec is a new member of parliament.

    The Freedom Movement had combined the elections to the European Parliament with three referendums. This had increased the overall voter turnout from just under thirty to 41 per cent. The referendums were about electoral law reform, the legalisation of marijuana and the liberalisation of euthanasia. These were so-called consultation referendums, which are not binding for legislators.

  • In Spain, the conservative PP (EPP) won the EU elections with 34.2% of the votes, which translates to 9 more seats in the EP, clearly ahead of the Socialists with 30.2%. The right-wing populist party VOX (ECR) gained 9.6%, an increase compared to the last EU elections but far from their ambitions on a national level. The two left-wing populist parties or alliances, Sumar and Podemos, together received 8% of the votes, also less than they had hoped for. The liberal party Ciudadanos (Renew Europe), shaken to the core by numerous electoral defeats in recent times, did participate but failed to secure seats in the EP. This is a loss for the European liberal family because Ciudadanos' delegation in the Renew group had held seven members until recently.

    In European politics, Spain is a solid player across parties, though a common European foreign policy, especially considering Spain's leading recognition of Palestine along with Ireland (and Norway, although not an EU state), has moved even further into the distance. Even the High Representative Josep Borrell from the Spanish Socialists has not always acted diplomatically, and cannot expect another term. Except for fiscal policy, Germany and Spain often share common interests. Especially in energy policy, both countries should increase pressure on France to finally end the blockade on physical energy infrastructure between the Iberian Peninsula and Northern Europe.

    The election campaign barely touched on European issues; instead, it focused on Spanish matters, including the controversial amnesty for the ringleaders of the illegal Catalan independence referendum, the scandalous visit of the Argentine President Milei to Madrid, and a court case involving the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's wife.

  • Sweden bucked the trend with gains for the left and losses for the right. With a campaign focused on climate issues, the Left Party and the Green Party made the largest gains (+4.2% and +2.3%, respectively), while the Social Democrats remained the largest party with 5 seats. Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's Moderate Party is the second-largest with 4 seats, while the other coalition partners, the Christian Democrats (5.7%) and the Liberals (4.4%), barely managed to secure one seat each. The liberal Centre Party lost 3.5% but managed to retain two seats despite even worse polling numbers.

    The big surprise of the evening was the first electoral defeat for the Sweden Democrats. The far-right party lost 2.2% and finished behind the Green Party in fourth place. However, this did not stop party members and MPs from celebrating to the tunes of Gigi D'Agostino's “L'Amour Toujours”, a song recently adopted by far-right groups across Europe. This puts additional pressure on the other parties in the ruling Tidö coalition, including the Liberals, to distance themselves from yet another scandal involving the far-right presence in the government.

  • The predominantly government-friendly Turkish media reported factually on the European elections, with a focus on the shift to the right in the European Parliament. The election was not a major topic in the country – while the approval for EU membership remains at 66%, it seems increasingly distant. Major changes in European Turkey policy are not expected after the elections. Important areas of cooperation will continue to be migration, the Green Deal, and updating the customs union. The EU Ambassador to Turkey, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, also sees a possible role for Turkey in issues related to Ukraine.

  • Ukraine closely watched the elections because the EU is the largest institutional donor and supporter of the war-torn country. The current EU Commission President von der Leyen and the parliamentary majority supporting her are clearly pro-Ukrainian. There were concerns in Ukraine that a shift to the right in the EU could make support for Ukraine more difficult.

    Now, there is relief in Kyiv – the pro-Ukrainian majority is likely to remain. However, the election results, as viewed from a national level, are a cause for concern in Ukraine. There is a legitimate fear that right-wing parties, which are mostly critical of aid for Ukraine, will gain influence in the respective EU Member States. The previous strong solidarity with Ukraine in the population could thus be in jeopardy soon. Ukraine urgently needs this solidarity and, above all, the aid – military, financial, and humanitarian – to counter Russian aggression. Ukraine faces even tougher months than ever before: the energy infrastructure is under daily attack by Russia, and intense fighting continues on the front lines. Without rapid and extensive support from the EU and the US, Ukraine is unlikely to win this battle. Now, Ukraine remains concerned about the outcome of the presidential elections in the US.

  • Over the past five years, the conservative-led EU Commission has turned a blind eye to democratic standards in the Western Balkans. Just before a scandalously unfree parliamentary election in December 2023, EU Commission President von der Leyen praised Serbian President and "dear friend" Aleksandar Vučić excessively and assured him of support. Other nationalist autocrats, such as the leader of the "Republika Srpska" in Bosnia and Herzegovina, were not dealt with particularly harshly either.

    A presumably more conservative EU Commission and a European Parliament feeling less committed to European values are unlikely to tighten the screws on rule of law. The independent weekly magazine "Vreme" sums it up: "The ever-dwindling people [in the Western Balkans] who await the import of European values have nothing to hope for from this European election, and President Vučić's government has nothing to fear."