Candidate Ursula von der Leyen, reacts on the European Parliament Hemicycle stage at the election results EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

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European elections make waves across the continent


European voters have sent a clear signal to Brussels: Conservatives and nationalists won, while Liberals and “green” groups had a very rough election night in most places.

Most illustrative were the results in France, where the elections were framed as a referendum on the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

France took it to heart and voted en masse in favour of the hard-right National Rally (RN) party of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella.

The result was so devastating that Macron dissolved the French Parliament and announced snap national elections.

Instead of an election party, the atmosphere among Macron’s group resembled that of a funeral.

French Presidential party Renaissance candidate Valérie Hayer (L) addresses supporters at the electoral party after the announcement of the results in Paris, France. (EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON)
Supporters of Renaissance after the vote. (EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON)

Across the political aisle, the ambiance was a lot more upbeat. Nation Rally won with a landslide.

The nationalists can now claim the political leadership in France, and party members were jubilant.

National Rally de facto leader Marine Le Pen next to party President Jordan Bardella. (EPA-EFE/ANDRE PAIN)
Supporters of the National Rally react joyfully after a televised address to the nation by French President Emmanuel Macron. (EPA-EFE/ANDRE PAIN)

In Germany, the unpopular “traffic light” coalition took a beating.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats recorded their worst result in a national vote in more than a century, scoring less than 14 per cent. The Greens also took a beating, scoring under 12 per cent, almost 9 per cent less than the previous elections, making them the biggest losers.

The centre-right Christian Democrats retook the top spot, garnering around 30 per cent, while the Alternative for Germany (AfD) had a strong 16 per cent, a rise of 5 per cent on the last vote.

Vice-President of the European Parliament and top candidate for the European elections Katarina Barley (C), Social Democratic Party (SPD) co-chairman Lars Klingbeil (L) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) co-chairwoman Saskia Esken (R) arrive to deliver a statement after their bad results. (EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN)
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and member of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) is seen on the screen as she speaks to supporters of the CDU at party headquarters. (Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-chairman Tino Chrupalla and deputy chairwoman Alice Weidel. (EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER)

Carola Rackete, who gained notoriety for her role as captain of a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean Sea helping migrants to enter Europe, said she was horrified at how the Right made gains in Europe.

In neighbouring Austria, the hard-right Austria Freedom Party (FPÖ) was the clear winner.

Top candidate for the European elections of the Austria Freedom Party (FPOe) Harald Vilimsky at the FPOe election night bash in Vienna. (EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA)

Belgium saw several parties do well. The biggest gains were made by the hard-right Vlaams Belang (VB) party, but by less than hoped for.

Conversely, while everyone predicted that the centre-right New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party would take a hit, it remained on top, putting the party President Bart De Wever ahead in the race to become Prime Minister.

The biggest surprise was the triumph of the centre-right Reformist Movement (MR) Party, at the expense of the French-speaking Socialists, in the south of Belgium.

Firebrand MR President George-Louis Bouchez seems to have succeeded in dethroning the mighty Party Socialiste (PS), a historic feat, clearing the way for a right-wing government on all levels in Belgium.

President of the Reformist Movement (MR) Georges-Louis Bouchez (C) gives a speech after the first results come in. (EPA-EFE/FREDERIC SIERAKOWSKI)
Bart De Wever, New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA) party leader. (EPA-EFE/FREDERIC SIERAKOWSKI)
Belgian Flemish Vlaams Belang party chairman Tom Van Grieken. (EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS)

In Spain, the centre-right Partido Popular made gains, scoring more than 30 per cent, pushing back the Socialists.

They were one of many European People Party’s (EPP) members that did well in Europe.

Greece, Hungary and Croatia were among the countries with good results for the Christian Democrats.

Popular Party President Alberto Nunez Feijoo (C-L), and Popular Party Candidate Dolors Montserrat (C), celebrate the electoral results. (EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN)
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (L) greets supporters as he leaves the headquarters of his New Democracy party. (EPA-EFE/YANNIS KOLESIDIS)
Top candidate for the European elections of Hungary’s Respect and Freedom (TISZA) party Peter Magyar sings with his supporters during its election night party. (EPA-EFE/Robert Hegedus)
Supporters of the Together’s (SPOLU) coalition at the party headquarters in Prague. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

Outliers included Denmark, where Socialists bagged a symbolically important win.

In Italy, the ECR made strong albeit predictable gains.

Supporters of Denmark’s Socialist People’s Party cheer during the first exit poll. EPA-EFE/Bo Amstrup
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the headquarters of her Fratelli d’Italia party. (EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI)