June 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

European elections: Millions cast their votes to elect a new parliament

European elections: Millions cast their votes to elect a new parliament

BRUSSELS (AP) — Tens of millions across the European Union voted Sunday in the European Union’s parliamentary elections in a sweeping exercise of democracy that is expected to shift the bloc to the right and redirect its future.

The war in Ukraine, migration, and the impact of climate policy on farmers are among the issues weighing on voters’ minds as they vote. Cast your vote To elect 720 members European Parliament.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024

Polls suggest that mainstream and pro-European parties will retain their majority in parliament, but will lose seats to far-right parties such as those led by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and Marine Le Pen in France. .

This would make it more difficult for Europe to pass legislation, and could sometimes paralyze the decision-making process in the world’s largest trading bloc. “I hope we can avoid a shift to the right and that Europe will somehow remain united,” voter Laura Simon said in Berlin.

EU lawmakers have a say on issues ranging from fiscal rules to climate and agricultural policy. They approve the EU budget, which funds priorities including infrastructure projects and agricultural support Aid provided to Ukraine. They have veto power over the appointment of the powerful EU Commission.

These elections come at a time of testing the confidence of voters in a bloc that includes about 450 million people. Over the past five years, the E.U Shaken by the coronavirus pandemicthat Economic recession And Energy crisis Fueled by the largest territorial conflict in Europe since World War II. But political campaigns often focus on issues of concern in individual countries rather than on broader European interests.

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Sunday’s voting marathon concludes a four-day election cycle that began in the Netherlands on Thursday.

An informal poll of voters leaving the polls indicated that Wilders’ far-right, anti-immigrant party would win. Important gains In the Netherlands, though, a coalition of pro-European parties may have pushed it into second place.

Casting his vote in the Flanders region, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of the month, warned that Europe was “at a crossroads” and “under more pressure than ever before.”

Since the last EU elections in 2019, populist or far-right parties now lead governments in three countries – Hungary, Slovakia and Italy – and are part of ruling coalitions in others including Sweden, Finland, and soon the Netherlands. Opinion polls give populists an advantage France, Belgium, Austria and Italy.

“The right is a good thing,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who leads a hardline, anti-immigrant, nationalist government, told reporters after casting his vote. “Going right is always good. Go right!”

After the elections comes a period of bargaining, as political parties reconsider their positions in the continent-wide political alliances that run the European legislature.

The largest political group – the centre-right European People’s Party – has moved to the right during the current election on issues such as security, climate and migration.

Among the most frequently viewed questions is whether Italy brothers – The ruling party led by the populist Meloni, which has neo-fascist roots – remains within the group of more hard-line European conservatives and reformists or becomes part of a new far-right group that could be formed in the wake of the elections. Meloni also has the option of working with EPP.

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The most worrying scenario for pro-European parties is for the European Council for Political Reform to join forces with Le Pen’s Identity and Democracy party to strengthen the influence of the far right.

The second largest group – the centre-left Socialists and Democrats – and the Green Party refuse to join the European Council for Reform.

Questions also remain about which group Orban’s ruling Fidesz party might join. He used to be part of the European People’s Party but that was it Forced out In 2021 due to conflicts over its interests and values. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has been expelled from the Identity and Democracy group following a series of scandals surrounding its two leading candidates for the European Parliament.

The elections also herald a period of uncertainty as new leaders are chosen at the head of European institutions. As lawmakers jostle for places in coalitions, governments will compete to secure top EU jobs for their national officials.

The most important of these is the presidency of the powerful executive, the European Commission, which proposes laws and monitors them to ensure their respect. The Commission also controls EU resources, administers trade, and is Europe’s competition watchdog.

Other important positions include that of President of the European Council, who chairs summits of presidents and prime ministers, and that of the European Union’s foreign policy chief, who is the bloc’s most senior diplomat.

Unofficial estimates are due as of 1615 GMT. The official results of the elections, which are held every five years, will begin to be published after the last polling stations in the 27 European Union countries close in Italy at 11 pm (2100 GMT), but there is a clear picture of what the new assembly might look like. It looks as if it won’t become clear until Monday.

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Sylvain Blazy in Brussels and Geir Molson in Berlin contributed to this report.