European elections get under way across the continent on Thursday

European elections get under way across the continent on Thursday

Elections for the 751-seat European Parliament will begin across the European Union today. Populist forces throughout Europe have united into

european elections 2019

Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

Elections for the 751-seat European Parliament will begin across the European Union today.

Populist forces throughout Europe have united into a loose coalition around key issues, such as immigration, hoping that such a focus will help them overcome their differences on national identity and their varying degrees of Euroscepticism.

The uncertainty over Brexit has seen a surge in support for the Brexit Party, whilst anger in France over rising inequality has led to a shift in voter approval away from President Emmanuel Macron and to far-right figure Marine le Pen. Voter turnout is likely to be crucial to determining how many seats right-wing populist groups ultimately gain. It is expected to be consistent or lower than the 42% turnout recorded in 2014 elections.

The centralist alliance of the European People’s Party and Social Democrats is likely to slip to or below 50% of the vote. While far-right and populist parties are expected to pick up seats, the inability of these groups to organise around issues other than immigration makes it unlikely that they will be an effective political force in the new Parliament.

Delve deeper: 2019 Forecast: Italian populists at the reins

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