How will Europe vote?

EU citizens have until Sunday evening to elect the 720 MEPs who will represent them in the European Parliament over the next five years. The far-right groups ID (Identity and Democracy) and ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) are expected to make strong gains. Commentators discuss what the EU will look like politically once the votes have been counted.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

Another triumph for Wilders prevented

Initial forecasts in the Netherlands point to a neck-and-neck race between the GroenLinks-PvdA alliance and Geert Wilders' far-right PVV. De Volkskrant comments:

“For Wilders the result will feel like a slight setback after his unexpected victory in November. On the other hand, he has not been penalised for the coalition negotiations in which he had to make major concessions in recent months and renounce the premiership. ... The GroenLinks-PvdA campaigned primarily with the goal of preventing another victory for a far-right party. That seems to have succeeded.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Brave new shamelessness

La Vanguardia views the election campaign in Italy with concern:

“European governments are talking as little as possible about the reception centres for migrants. Not so Giorgia Meloni, who on Wednesday presented the new Italian complex on the Albanian coast. ... She said it would be a model for the other EU countries. ... This whole act comes just four days before the European elections. ... The prime minister is acting brazenly and shamelessly. This is the new Europe that is emerging. It may win the elections, but it has little to do with the Europe that was founded in the middle of the last century.” (RO) /

Destabilisation likely

The far-right parties will have limited but tangible influence in the new parliament, predicts:

“The idea of uniting the far-right parties in the EU is an old dream pioneered by Farage, Le Pen and Wilders more than 20 years ago. Yet their dream never materialised. Not only are these parties inherently incompatible - just think of their divergent positions on Russia - but their own nationalist approach also prevents them from cooperating across borders. ... However, even if the far-right parties won't gain political control over the EU project, their record number of seats will give them profound and potentially destabilising political influence.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Wooing votes on the right is risky

Rzeczpospolita takes a critical view of Ursula von der Leyen's approach to securing re-election as Commission President:

“Von der Leyen, who is unsure whether the pro-European groups will be able to secure her election for a second term, believes that by adopting the slogans of the far right she can stop their advance. But this is a risky strategy because populism is on the rise in EU states, and not just regarding migration. In Spain, the success of the post-Franco Vox party is a reaction to Catalonia's attempts to secede, while the AfD is thriving mainly due to the cost of implementing environmental regulations.”

The New European (GB) /

UK could benefit from chaos

Things are not looking good for the EU, The New European fears:

“Within a fortnight of taking over in July, Keir Starmer will be required to chair the biannual gathering of the European Political Community. ... It will be a perfect stage to demonstrate a new era of cooperation with the EU. He will face two immediate problems. Such may be the chaos, it may take months for a new commission to be ratified, including the president. And what of the EU brand? With Meloni ruling the roost, Le Pen knocking on the door and Macron and Scholz floundering, it will hardly be at its most attractive. Britain could be seen as a beacon of stability and moderation. The irony of ironies.”

Expressen (SE) /

In search of the lesser evil

It could make sense for EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to try to win over Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, says Expressen:

“The price of isolating Meloni could be that the right-wing groups in the EU Parliament consolidate and radicalise. If instead the European centre puts pragmatism above purism, it might be able to split the moderate right from the radical right. ... This is not Europe's finest hour but a time for choosing the lesser evil. However if European politics falters because of too many red lines and ideological barriers, we know who is likely to win: the parties of discontent.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Von der Leyen is playing with fire

Jutarnji list comments:

“To boost her chances and reduce her dependence on the left, von der Leyen and her political group are flirting with the far right because they are very aware that these parties are growing. Von der Leyen has deliberately not ruled out the possibility of cooperation with these parties because she needs the right number of supporters, not only in the Parliament but also in the Council. But if she gains additional potential votes in one place by jettisoning her principles, she could lose votes elsewhere. The Socialists and Conservatives, Liberals and Greens won't want to support her if she cooperates with the far right.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Prevent chaos of changing majorities

In Corriere della Sera, entrepreneur Bernard Spitz hopes the result will be a very large coalition:

“We will need a strong Commission and a Parliament united around a majority. Otherwise the smallest sensitive issue in a single country could paralyse everything. ... If a clear line is to emerge, rather than a confusion of majorities that change depending on the issue at hand under pressure from the far right, a broad coalition will be needed. This will invariably require compromises between participants. On the one hand the chaos-causing extremists must be excluded; on the other, preparations must be made for collaboration. ... Stretching from the Social Democrats to the centre, and from the right wing of the EPP to Giorgia Meloni's group.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Don't leave voters' concerns to the populists

Berlingske proposes a constructive approach to right-wing parties:

“Perhaps it's not the shift to the right per se that we should fear, but the arrogant and powerless reaction of the centre. Because the dissatisfied voters really do have reason to be dissatisfied, and as long as no one but the far right listens to them, Europe will remain trapped - and that is disastrous in a situation in which the major powers are putting us under pressure in every conceivable way. ... Instead, we should take a constructive approach to the shift to the right. The parties of the far right may not have the right solutions, but they point to the right problems.”

Delfi (LT) /

Moscow has already voted

Putin has participated in the elections in his own way, columnist Paulius Jurkevičius affirms in Delfi:

“He has already voted - by secret ballot, he just has to wait for the results. He voted in a special way - from a distance, but he didn't send his ballot paper by post. Vladimir Putin usually votes in euros. And sometimes he wins. ... He forges ties, offers support, and seeks ideological points of contact. Putin wants to see those who fit into the system of seven ideological points in the new EU Parliament. ... Homophobia, anti-vaccine activism, glorification of traditional family values, assertion of 'national interests of small countries' as in the case of Slovakia and Hungary, antisemitism, xenophobia, and a ceasefire in Ukraine.”