European elections: Consequences of the European elections: Right-wing parties gain ground, Scholz under pressure

European elections: Consequences of the European elections: Right-wing parties gain ground, Scholz under pressure

What does the traffic light coalition’s failure mean for the Chancellor, what does the Union’s victory mean for the K question? What will happen after the eastern state elections? And will the EU drift further to the right? Four answers after the European elections.

After the European elections, it is mainly the right-wing parties that are celebrating. In Austria and France, for example, the right-wing populists have become the strongest force. In Germany, the AfD also made gains and even came first in the east. The traffic light coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) suffered a defeat – not a good omen for the state elections in the autumn in three eastern German states.

As the Federal Returning Officer announced on her homepage early on Monday morning after all 400 districts had been counted, the Union increased slightly to 30.0 percent (2019: 28.9). The AfD achieved its best result to date in a nationwide vote with 15.9 (2019: 11) – but it was lower than interim poll results. In East Germany, the party is by far the strongest force. The SPD, which also relied on Chancellor Olaf Scholz as a figurehead in the election campaign, fell to 13.9 percent (15.8) – its worst result ever in a nationwide election. The Greens slipped to 11.9 percent (20.5). The FDP lost only slightly, coming in at 5.2 percent (5.4).

The Left ended up with a meager 2.7 percent (5.5) – its worst result in European elections. The BSW party achieved 6.2 percent straight away. The Free Voters received 2.7 percent (2.2), the Volt party was at 2.6 percent (0.7).

In contrast to federal and state elections, there is no threshold for the European elections in Germany, i.e. a five percent hurdle. According to projections, voter turnout is 65 percent. In 2019, it was 61.4 percent, at which time Germany was in fifth place among the 27 EU states. For the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote in a European election in Germany. Answers to four questions that arise after the result.

Could there be an AfD prime minister after the state elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg?

If the AfD gets results like it did in the European elections, it could come close to achieving this goal – and it is not entirely out of the question, at least in Saxony. If the state election results in the Free State were similar to those in the European elections, it could theoretically happen that only the AfD, CDU and the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) would enter the state parliament and all the others would fail to clear the five percent hurdle. If the CDU and BSW were to win even fewer seats than the AfD, which does not seem out of the question when looking at the European election results, they would not be able to prevent the election of an AfD prime minister.

How dangerous is the election result for Scholz and the traffic light coalition?

French President Emmanuel Macron made short work of the election night. Just an hour after announcing the crushing defeat of his centre-left bloc against the right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen, he abruptly announced a new parliamentary election, which is to take place in just three weeks. “So at the end of this day I cannot pretend that nothing has happened,” he said.

Would that be something for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose SPD party has achieved the worst result in a nationwide election to date? The Union is already demanding that he ask for a vote of confidence. And there is a historical precedent for this: in 2005, the then SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder did exactly that after an election defeat in North Rhine-Westphalia in order to bring about a new election for the Bundestag.

Scholz is not the type to just give up. On election night, he strolled demonstratively calmly through the election party in Berlin’s Willy Brandt House and calmly took selfies with his comrades – as if nothing had happened. The next few weeks could be uncomfortable for him, however. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil has already hinted that his party will now take a tougher stance in the coalition. Perhaps at the expense of the Chancellor. “Our people want to see us fight,” said Klingbeil on election night. But the election defeats of the Greens and the FDP will not help the coalition’s willingness to compromise – and this in the middle of difficult budget negotiations, which are due to be concluded by July 3. The traffic light coalition is therefore likely to have turbulent weeks ahead.

Will CDU leader Friedrich Merz now be the Union’s candidate for chancellor?

That is still open. In any case, Merz cannot sit back and relax. Given the clear Union victory, it is not necessarily to be expected that an internal Union debate will break out on Monday as to whether the 68-year-old Sauerlander is actually the right candidate to replace Scholz after the next federal election. But that is not out of the question. For example, Merz has long been accused of not being popular with either young people or women.

According to an analysis by the research group Wahlen on Sunday, the AfD is on a par with the CDU/CSU in the 16- to 24-year-old group with 17 percent, which is only getting half as many votes from young people as it does overall. It is quite possible that the CDU/CSU is also discussing Merz’s approach to security and migration. According to a preliminary analysis of voter migration by Infratest Dimap for ARD, 600,000 people have moved from the CDU/CSU to the AfD, 250,000 to the BSW (Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance) and 1.28 million to non-voters. This could also be blamed on Merz.

In the K question, which the CDU and CSU want to decide after the state elections in September, the election analyses do not have anything particularly positive in store for Merz. According to the analysis by the research group Wahlen on Sunday, 66 percent of citizens are dissatisfied with the federal government – but only 30 percent think that the CDU/CSU would do things better. Neither Merz nor CSU leader Markus Söder can clearly distance themselves from Scholz in terms of reputation.

Are Le Pen, Meloni and Co now setting the tone in the EU?

No. The course of the EU is primarily set by the European Council and nothing will change there as a result of the European elections. In the European Council, the body of heads of state and government, the parties of the centre-right EPP alliance currently have 13 members, making them by far the largest camp.

The EPP also remains by far the strongest political force in the European Parliament. Even if all right-wing parties were to join forces, they would probably get fewer than 200 of the future 720 seats and would therefore be far from a majority. This means that, mathematically speaking, EPP lead candidate Ursula von der Leyen does not need votes from the far-right camp to be elected President of the EU Commission for a second time.

360 million citizens were eligible to vote

Around 360 million citizens in the 27 EU states were eligible to vote, including almost 61 million Germans. From Thursday to Sunday, 720 representatives for the new European Parliament were elected – depending on the country – 96 of them in Germany on the last day. Apart from the parliamentary election in India, it is the largest democratic vote in the world – and the only direct election across national borders.

Source: Stern

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