June 16, 2024

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European elections: Millions cast their votes to elect a new parliament

European elections: Millions cast their votes to elect a new parliament

BRUSSELS (AP) — Polls opened across Europe on Sunday as voters from 20 countries cast ballots in an election that is expected to shift the European Union’s parliament to the right and could reshape the future direction of the world’s largest trading bloc.

The war in Ukraine, the impact of climate policy on farmers and migration are some of the issues weighing on voters from Portugal in the west to the Alpine country of Austria to Poland in the east and Cyprus in the Mediterranean as they vote. Cast your vote To elect 720 members European Parliament.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024

Sunday’s voting marathon concludes a four-day election cycle that began in the Netherlands on Thursday.

An informal poll of voters exiting the polls indicated that Geert Wilders’ far-right, anti-immigrant party should be formed. Important gains In the Netherlands, though, a coalition of pro-European parties may have pushed it into second place.

If this trend continues, lawmakers will find it more difficult to pass legislation and make decisions.

“The right is a good thing,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who leads a hardline, anti-immigrant, nationalist government, told reporters after casting his vote. “Going right is always good. Go right!”

Since the last EU elections in 2019, populist or far-right parties now lead governments in three countries – Hungary, Slovakia and Italy – and are part of the ruling coalition in others, including Sweden, Finland and soon the Netherlands. Opinion polls give populists an advantage France, Belgium, Austria and Italy.

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Opinion polls suggest that the mainstream and pro-European parties will retain their majority in parliament, but the far right, including parties led by politicians such as Wilders or France’s Marine Le Pen, will eat into their share of seats.

The largest political group – the center-right European People’s Party – has already moved away from the middle ground, campaigning on traditional far-right issues such as more security, tougher immigration laws, and a focus on business at the expense of social welfare concerns.

A lot may depend on whether Italy brothers The ruling party of far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, which has neo-fascist roots, remains within the more hard-line European Conservatives and Reformists, or becomes part of a new far-right group that could be created in 2018. Following the election. Meloni also has the additional option of working with EPP.

The second largest group – the centre-left Socialists and Democrats – and the Green Party refuse to join the European Council for Reform. The most dangerous scenario for pro-European parties would be for the European Council for Political Reform to join forces with Le Pen’s Identity and Democracy party to strengthen the influence of the far right.

Questions remain about which group Orban’s ruling Fidesz party might join. He used to be part of the European People’s Party but that was it Forced out In 2021 due to conflicts over its interests and values.

The EU Parliament does not propose laws, but must discuss draft proposals on topics ranging from climate, agriculture and fisheries, to banking rules, security and justice. It could also block the appointment of senior officials to the powerful EU Commission.

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These elections come at a time of testing the confidence of voters in a bloc that includes about 450 million people. Over the past five years, the E.U Shaken by the coronavirus pandemicthat Economic recession And Energy crisis Fueled by the largest territorial conflict in Europe since World War II.

The elections also mark the beginning of a period of uncertainty for Europeans and their international partners. Aside from bickering to form political groups and forge alliances within parliament, governments will compete to secure top EU jobs for their national officials.

The most important of these is the presidency of the powerful executive, the European Commission, which proposes laws and monitors them to ensure their respect. The Commission also controls EU resources, administers trade, and is Europe’s competition watchdog.

Other important positions include that of President of the European Council, who chairs summits of presidents and prime ministers, and that of the European Union’s foreign policy chief, who is the bloc’s most senior diplomat.

EU lawmakers have a say in legislation ranging from fiscal rules to climate or agricultural policy. They also approve the EU budget, which apart from funding the bloc’s political priorities, funds things like infrastructure projects, agricultural subsidies or financial aid. Aid provided to Ukraine.

But despite the important role that political campaigns play, they often focus on issues of concern in individual countries rather than on broader European interests. Voters routinely use their ballots to protest the policies of their national governments.

Official results of the elections, which are held every five years, cannot be published before the last polling stations in the 27 EU countries – those in Italy – close at 11pm (2100 GMT).

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Unofficial estimates are due as of 1615 GMT. Partial results will be announced late Sunday, but a clear picture of what the new council might look like will not emerge until Monday.