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French President Emmanuel Macron attends a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the massacre of 643 persons by Nazi German forces, in Oradour-sur-Glane, France, June 10, 2024.


Macron rolls the dice on France’s future

Following a humbling 17-point defeat to Marine Le Pen’s far-right opposition party in the EU Parliament elections this weekend, France’s President Emmanuel Macron shocked the world by calling for snap elections to be held on June 30.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also suffered defeat to the far-right over the weekend, but he rejected demands for him to follow in Macron’s footsteps and call a snap election.

Macron’s logique: Macron is daring French voters to vote the same way domestically that they did this weekend for the European Parliament – which has long been seen as a protest vote.

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French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party leader Marine Le Pen and party President Jordan Bardella address militants listens after French President announced he is calling for new general elections on June 30, during an evening gathering on the final day of the European Parliament election, at the Pavillon Chesnaie du Roy in Paris, on June 9, 2024.

Photo by Raphael Lafargue/ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

Left in the dust: European voters swing right

Europe took a hard right turn in European Parliament elections this weekend, dealing a substantial blow to key EU leaders German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, prompting the latter to call early elections.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party surged to 31.5% support – more than twice as much as Macron’s Renaissance coalition, with 14.5%. Close behind are the Socialists and their lead candidate Raphaël Glucksmann with 14%.

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Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders votes during an EU election in The Hague, Netherlands June 6, 2024.

REUTERS/Lewis Macdonald

Europe votes with the far-right on the rise

The Netherlands and Estonia kicked off the European Parliament elections on Thursday, with the rest of the bloc’s 27 member states set to vote on the composition of its ruling body by Sunday.

While each country will have local issues weighing heavily on voters, a few patterns of concern are crossing borders: immigration, the war in Ukraine, and climate policy, particularly where it intersects with energy costs. On balance, the far-right parties like Alternative for Germany, France’s National Rally, and Brothers of Italy look set to grow their seats, but barring a major upset, the ruling center-right coalition under Ursula von der Leyen is expected to stay in control.

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Disgraced AfD leader Maximilian Krah.

DPA via Reuters

Euro Parliament group expels AfD

Even the far right has its limits. The European Parliament’s “Identity and Democracy” group of populist right-wing parties – including the Alternative for Germany, France’s National Rally, and Italy’s League, among others – expelled all nine AfD members on Thursday.

The move comes just weeks ahead of European Parliament elections on June 9 in which the far right is expected to make serious gains. It also comes a day after Maximilian Krah, head of AfD, said he’d step down over two scandals – one involving a senior staffer being charged with spying for China, and another stemming from Krah telling an Italian newspaper that not all members of the Nazi SS were war criminals. But sacrificing Krah wasn’t enough – and National Rally leader Marine Le Pensaid her party needed a “clean break” from AfD.

The expulsion was a bold move, given the AfD’s popularity. As recently as January, it was Germany’s second most popular party, polling at 22%, though it has since dropped six percentage points to tie for second place with the Social Democrat Party.

Polls have predicted the Identity and Democracy group’s number of seats in the European Parliament could rise from 59 to about 84 (some predicted a high of 93 before AfD’s recent scandals). National Rally, meanwhile, is surging in the polls.

What does this mean? Apart from hurting its reputation, expulsion means AfD loses access to the group’s shared resources, collective voice in parliament, and possibly some funding. But it doesn’t mean AfD members can’t run. In fact, party leaders said Thursday that they remained optimistic about the election. “We are confident we will continue to have reliable partners at our side in the new legislative period,” they said.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gives a statement to annonunce he will stay on as Prime Minister after weighing his exit from the Spanish government, at Moncloa palace in Madrid, Spain April 29, 2024.

Borja Puig de la Bellacasa/Pool via REUTERS

Spain’s prime minister isn’t going anywhere

After nearly a week of uncertainty, Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, announced he would remain the country’s leader. Last Wednesday, he threatened to leave the position because of what he termed a “harassment and bullying operation” being waged against him and his wife by political and media enemies.

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