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Centre holds in provisional European election results

Image: European Commission/Dati Bendo

Ursula von der Leyen in strong position as poll paves way for centrist coalition

Centrist groups have retained their grip on power in the European Parliament for another five years, according to provisional results from the elections that took place across the EU in recent days.

The strong showing for the centre-right European People’s Party group and centre-left Socialists and Democrats group came despite expectations of a substantial swing to the right, which turned out to be smaller than some had feared and had more of an impact at national than EU level.

In the current projection, the EPP will get 185 out of 720 seats in the new Parliament (25.7 per cent), up from 176 out of 705 seats (25 per cent) in the 2019-24 term. The S&D group is expected to get 137 seats (19 per cent), down from 139 (19.7 per cent).

Swings on the margins

The projection is provisional because the groups are made up of national parties that could yet switch allegiance. The Volt Netherlands party has indicated that it could switch to the centrist Renew Europe group from the left-wing Greens and European Free Alliance group, for example. In addition, several dozen MEPs were elected who are currently not part of any group.

Renew and the Greens/EFA both slipped in the election that took place on 6 to 9 June, with the former set to have 79 seats (11 per cent) in the new term, down from 102 (14.5 per cent); and the latter to have 52 seats (7.2 per cent), down from 71 (10.1 per cent).

These losses were largely inflicted by two right-wing groups: the European Conservatives and Reformists group, which is set to get 73 seats (10.1 per cent), up from 69 (9.8 per cent); and the Identity and Democracy group, which is on course for 58 seats (8.1 per cent), up from 49 (7 per cent).

Completing the tally, the Left group is set to get 36 seats (5 per cent), down from 37 (5.2 per cent).

Centrist coalition can hold

A coalition of the EPP, S&D, Renew and perhaps the Greens/EFA is now likely to approve whoever is nominated to become the next European Commission president by the heads of EU member states, giving them an easier path to power than if the right wing had been more successful.

Ursula von der Leyen (pictured, left) of the EPP looks to be in a strong position to retain the post; on X, the EPP said: “We proved once again we are Europe’s strongest political force by winning more seats and standing against extremism. This is a huge success for our lead candidate von der Leyen.”

Von der Leyen herself said on X that from today she would “start building a broad coalition for a strong Europe” that can act as a “bastion against the extremes on the right and on the left”.

MEPs will this week announce their group affiliations, firming up the final composition of the new Parliament. National leaders in the European Council, chaired by president Charles Michel (also pictured) are expected to nominate their preferred Commission president in the coming weeks, to be approved or rejected by the Parliament in July.

National ramifications

National leaders are not forced to nominate the lead candidate of the winning group, but France’s president Emmanuel Macron, whose affiliation is with the Renew group and who is reportedly wary of a second von der Leyen term, was weakened by a large victory for France’s right-wing National Rally.

Macron has called a snap national parliamentary election in France in an attempt to head off the right’s rise.

Elsewhere, Belgium’s Alexander De Croo said he would resign after his centre-right party lost ground to the right wing.