Far-right parties see big gains in European elections

2024-06-08 11:12:01China Daily/Agencies Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

The Netherlands' anti-immigration Party for Freedom, known as PVV, led by Geert Wilders has made big gains in the European Parliament election that is being held across 27 European Union member states from Thursday to Sunday, as far-right parties win increasing support from the public. 

An exit poll by Ipsos I&O shows that PVV will win seven of the 31 seats allocated to the Netherlands in the 720-seat European Parliament, second only to the Labor-Green alliance led by Frans Timmermans, former first executive vice-president of the European Commission.

PVV failed to secure any seats in the 2019 election, but obtained one later after a reshuffle due to Brexit.

"We are by far the largest winner this evening," Wilders, 60, told the press on Thursday night.

Wilders was hoping to ride a wave of support for the Dutch coalition he managed to put together after a major victory in national elections on Nov 22. "The West is waking up and you see parties like mine growing in popularity all over the European Union. The people are waking up and I hope for them to stay awake," Wilders said.

"The next few days are crucial for the future of Europe. Will it be with more borders and immigration, or will it be a lot tougher with not an expansion of the European Union, but returning legislative powers to the capitals? And that is something we are aiming for."

Wilders is hoping to join the right to far-right Identity and Democracy Group in the European Parliament.

"If you want to change the big institutions like the European Union, it is more effective if you do it from the inside. So if parties like mine, who it looks like they are winning all over Europe, from Austria, France and Belgium to Italy and Spain and other countries, if we would join forces and perhaps form a big group of MEPs that will be able and strong enough to change the European policy from within," he told the press during a campaign on Wednesday.

Timmermans, who quit the European Commission's "green czar" job last year to run in the Dutch national elections, said on Thursday the results showed that left-wing parties should not be written off for this election, despite the rise of nationalist parties throughout Europe.

"Pro-European parties in the Netherlands did very well in this election, which sends a clear signal to the rest of Europe that there is no necessity to work with the radical right," he said in a message likely to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who has drawn sharp criticism during her reelection campaign for trying to seek an alliance with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, considered by many as a far-right leader.

"The assumption that the radical right would sweep this election has not materialized in the Netherlands."

While the Labor-Green alliance runs a joint race this time, they will be split in parliament. Labor is part of the Socialists and Democrats political group, while the Greens belongs to the Greens bloc.

Far-right parties are on the rise in Europe, winning support from young people. A recent Ipsos poll showed that 34 percent of French under the age of 30 who planned to vote would choose right-wing populist Jordan Bardella, president of Marine Le Pen's National Rally party.

Polling data analyzed by Politico showed there is strong and rising youth support for similar far-right parties across Europe, such as Vox in Spain, Chega in Portugal, Vlaams Belang in Belgium and the Finns Party in Finland.

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