Here's what happened in some key countries in the EU Parliament elections

French President Emmanuel Macron votes during the European election, in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, northern France, Sunday, June 9, 2024. Polling stations opened across Europe on Sunday as voters from 20 countries cast ballots in elections that are expected to shift the European Union's parliament to the right and could reshape the future direction of the world's biggest trading bloc. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

BRUSSELS (AP) — It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the EU elections. Voters cast ballots in two dozen languages in 27 countries with scores of different campaign issues.

So here’s a look at what happened in some key countries in the June 6-9 elections for a new European Parliament.

FRANCEThis was the biggest bombshell of Europe’s mass election night: President Emmanuel Macron’s moderate pro-business party was so badly trounced by the far-right party of Marine Le Pen in the EU vote that he called a snap legislative election in France.

Propelled by her anti-immigration, nationalist ideas, Le Pen’s National Rally party is forecast to win the most of France’s 81 seats in the European Parliament — about twice as many as Macron’s Renaissance movement.

The snap French legislative election is a big gamble for Macron and his party, which risks further losing support while Le Pen’s National Rally could see its influence surge.

Many French voters used the EU election to express dissatisfaction with Macron’s management of the economy, farming rules, or security. The result hurts him as he tries to lead Europe-wide efforts to defend Ukraine and boost the EU’s own defenses and industry.

The National Rally’s lead European Parliament candidate, Jordan Bardella, promises to limit free movement of migrants within the EU’s open borders and dial back EU climate rules. The party no longer wants to leave the EU and the euro, but to weaken it from within.

On the left, France’s long-suffering Socialist Party surged behind lead candidate Raphaël Glucksmann, who wants a more ambitious climate policy and protections for European businesses and workers.

GERMANYThe leader of the EU’s richest and most powerful country, Germany, also suffered a blow.

Center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s unpopular governing coalition lost badly to the conservative opposition, which benefited from his troubles. The conservative bloc maintained its position as the strongest German party in Brussels as it looks ahead to a national election expected in the fall of next year.

And the far-right Alternative for Germany made good gains despite a string of scandals surrounding its top two candidates for the EU legislature. That’s especially sobering to many, given Germany’s Nazi past.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is a member of the Christian Democratic Union, the dominant party in the two-party conservative bloc that won the most votes.

Projections showed support for Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats at 14%, their worst post-World War II result in a nationwide vote.

Germany’s Greens, central to globally important EU climate policy, saw support slump.

Germany will have the largest number of the new European Parliament’s 720 seats at 96.

HUNGARYLong-serving Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán saw yet another election victory — but a new challenger has upended his grip on Hungarian politics.

Orbán’s Fidesz party was expected to win 43% of the vote, according to estimates from the EU Parliament. While Fidesz took a plurality of votes, it was down nearly 10 points from its support in the last EU elections in 2019, and looked set to lose two seats in what was widely seen as a referendum on Orbán’s popularity.

A deep economic crisis and a recent series of scandals involving Fidesz politicians have rocked the party which prides itself on upholding family values and Christian conservatism.

Challenger Péter Magyar broke ranks with Orbán’s party in February and in a matter of months built up Hungary’s strongest opposition party. That party, Respect and Freedom (TISZA), was expected to take 31% of the vote.

Magyar has shot to prominence on public accusations of corruption and mismanagement within Orbán’s government. Magyar’s party has presented itself as a more centrist alternative to Orbán’s brand of illiberal populism.

Orbán cast the election as an existential struggle between war and peace, telling voters that casting their ballots for his opposition would draw Hungary directly into the war in neighboring Ukraine and precipitate a global armed conflict. He has been in power since 2010.

ITALYPremier Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, is forecast to more than double its number of seats in the European Parliament since the last election. And that will hand her new power to influence policy in the EU.

While voters punished moderate leaders in France and Germany, they gave Meloni’s party even more support than in the last national elections in 2022.

Her pro-Ukraine and Israel policies have proven reassuring to centrist American and European allies, but she is leading culture wars at home that preserve her far-right credentials.

The center-left opposition Democratic Party came in second, followed by the other main opposition party, the 5-Star Movement.

In Italy, the vote is not expected to destabilize the government, even if Meloni’s advantage will be at the expense of her partners in the governing coalition, the populist, anti-migrant right-wing Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, and the center-right Forza Italia, led by Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

Italy has 76 European parliamentary seats.

SLOVAKIAA liberal, pro-Western group won the EU elections in Slovakia, beating the party of populist, pro-Russian Prime Minister Robert Fico just weeks after he survived an assassination attempt.

The attack on Fico sent shockwaves through the nation of 5.4 million and appeared to boost voter turnout, which had been the lowest of the entire bloc in 2014 and 2019 but reached a record 34.4% Sunday.

The assassination attempt didn’t help Fico’s leftist Smer (Direction) party, the senior partner in the governing coalition, to win the vote. Smer has been attacking the EU’s support for Ukraine, as well other policies on immigration, climate change and LGBTQ+ rights.

Smer was in a close race against the main opposition Progressive Slovakia, which won 27.8%, or six seats in the EU parliament, according to provisional results. Smer follows at 24.8%, or five seats. A far-right opposition party that wants Slovakia out of NATO, the Republic, finished third with 12.53% and will have two seats.


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