Saturday, June 22, 2024

WORLD | 10-06-2024 12:16

Milei cheers far-right EU vote gains as France calls snap election

Far-right gains in EU elections triggered a political earthquake in France on Sunday and Argentina's President Javier Milei was among those hailing the "tremendous advance of the new right."

President Javier Milei hailed the "tremendous advance of the new right in Europe" on Sunday night, celebrating "great news" from the "Old Continent."

Far-right gains in EU elections triggered a political earthquake in France on Sunday, with President Emmanuel Macron calling snap legislative polls in a high-risk move.

Though centrist mainstream parties kept an overall majority in the European Parliament, across the bloc extreme right parties notched a string of high-profile wins. They finished first in France, Italy and Austria and came second in Germany and the Netherlands, according to preliminary results.

Argentina's head of state was delighted with the news, taking to social media to celebrate the results.

"The new right-wingers have swept the European elections and have put the brakes on all those who are pushing the 2030 Agenda, an inhuman agenda designed by bureaucrats, for the benefit of bureaucrats," the president declared on the X social media network.

"The peoples of Europe have spoken and have revalidated our vision with their vote, despite the cries of local and international progressives, journalists and politicians who questioned Argentina's new positioning to disguise their globalist intentions," said the President.

"A few months ago we stood up in front of the Davos Forum, the main exponent of the 2030 Agenda, and told them that if this course continued, the West would be heading for extinction," the President stated.

"The West must recover the banners that made it the most prosperous civilising process in our history: the defence of life, liberty and individual property. Today we have taken a fundamental step in defence of our ideas," he concluded.


'Right choice'

More than 360 million Europeans across 27 countries were eligible to vote to elect the 720-seat legislature. The next parliament, and the next commission, will have to deal with Russia's continuing war in Ukraine, global trade tensions marked by US-China rivalry, a climate emergency and the prospect of a disruptive new Donald Trump presidency in the United States.

Macron said Monday he was confident the French would make the "right choice" in snap elections he called after the far right crushed his centrist alliance in Sunday's EU ballot.

His surprise move came after mainstream centrist parties kept an overall majority in the European Parliament in Sunday's poll, but the far right notched up a string of high-profile victories in Italy, Austria and France.

In Germany, where the three ruling coalition parties also performed dismally, centre-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz's spokesman on Monday ruled out a snap poll.

Analysts say the French leader has taken the extremely risky gamble of dissolving the national parliament in a bid to keep the far-right National Rally (RN) out of power when his second term ends in 2027.

"I am confident in the capacity of the French people to make the right choice for themselves and for future generations," Macron wrote on X on Monday morning. "My sole ambition is to be useful to our country that I love so much."

Macron's announcement of elections for a new National Assembly on June 30, with a second round on July 7, has sparked widespread alarm, even from within the ranks of his own party.

"By playing with fire, the head of state could end up by burning himself and dragging the entire country into the fire," Le Monde wrote in an editorial.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist, described the prospect of elections just weeks before the start of the Paris Olympics as "extremely unsettling."

But International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach played down any direct impact on the event.

"I cannot act as if nothing had happened," Macron said in a national address. The French people, he said, must now make "the best choice for itself and future generations".

The RN won 31.5 percent of the vote to 15 percent for Macron's centrist Renaissance party, according to exit polls.

"We are ready to take power if the French show trust in us," Le Pen told her party, whose leader is Jordan Bardella, her 28-year-old TikTok-friendly protegé.


Dramatic day

The French drama electrified an already charged day as votes were cast and tallied, and attention was focused on how well the far right fared in each country.

In Germany, the EU's biggest economy, the scandal-plagued, fiercely anti-immigrant AfD party handed dismal news to Chancellor Olaf Scholz by beating his Social Democrats 16 percent to 14 percent.

The AfD -- judged too extreme for Le Pen, who broke off an alliance with it just before the elections -- was kept in place by the opposition CDU-CSU bloc, which won 29.5 percent, while the Greens won 12 percent.

The far-right parties in the Netherlands and Belgium both also gained ground, but came up short compared with voter intentions credited to them before the elections.

In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party led the count according to exit polls, the first time the group has topped a nationwide ballot in the Alpine country.

In Italy, the ruling post-fascist Brothers of Italy of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni did better than predicted, coming out on top with 28 percent. The result made her one of the rare major European leaders to emerge strengthened from the polls.

In Hungary, almost-final results showed Prime Minister Viktor Orban's far-right Fidesz party headed for what could be its worst score in its 14-year rule, a still substantial 44 percent but well down on the 52 percent it won in 2019.

The various extreme-right parties are broken into factions in the European Parliament.

While all share anti-immigrant platforms, divisions run deep between those wanting to keep up Europe's role helping Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion, such as Meloni's party, and those leery of it, which include Le Pen's RN.

"The voices of the extreme right and the populist right cannot be added together, this will limit their direct weight in the legislature," Sebastien Maillard, of French think tank the Jacques Delors Institute, told AFP.

"But the brown [far-right] wave, particularly evident in France, will inevitably permeate the political climate in which the Commission will act and the majority will have to take it into account," he added.




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