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9 Jun, 2024 22:34

Germany’s Scholz suffers EU election blow

The governing liberal/green bloc placed behind the conservative opposition and right-wing AfD
Germany’s Scholz suffers EU election blow

Germany’s ruling coalition has been roundly beaten by opposition parties in Sunday’s vote for the EU Parliament, coming in behind the conservatives and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, according to exit polls.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) received around 14% of the vote, down from 15.8% in 2019, marking their worst results in decades, according to early forecasts from ZDF and ARD based on partial counting. 

The conservative center-right main opposition, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), is predicted to take first place with around 30%.

The AfD rose to second place with around 16%. The ultra-conservative Eurosceptic party has lobbied for cutting off deliveries of weapons to Ukraine and ending the sanctions on Russia, calling for peace talks instead. Despite several scandals in the run-up to the election, their support has grown by almost 5% in the last five years.

Other members of Scholz’s ‘traffic light coalition’ also suffered losses. The Free Democrats (FDP) saw a moderate drop in support, from 5.4% to an estimated 5%. However, the Greens fell dramatically to around 12%, compared to 2019 when the party achieved its best results ever, winning 20.5% of the vote and 21 seats in the European Parliament.

Under the current coalition government, Berlin has faced rising energy costs and the risk of recession, following the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and fallout from sanctions imposed on Moscow. Green lobbying, meanwhile, resulted in the closure of the last three German nuclear power plants in April last year. The IMF has projected German GDP to grow by just 0.2% in 2024.

Meanwhile, the left-wing Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW), a party formed by Wagenknecht and former Left Party politicians less than a year ago, gained around 6% of the vote. The BSW has leaned left on economic policy, but similar to some conservatives, has lobbied against uncontrolled migration. In the run-up to the EU elections, Wagenknecht warned against further escalation of the Ukraine conflict and allowing Kiev to use Western weapons in strikes on Russian territory, urging the West to “stop playing with fire.”

The largest among the 27 member states of the EU, Germany currently holds 96 seats in the European Parliament. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is a member of the CDU, which is part of the largest group in the EU Parliament, the European People’s Party.

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