Ballot was also informal confidence vote in governments across the bloc.
In the European Parliament election, traditional ruling parties clung to their leading positions as far-right populists, liberals and Greens surged in polls.
But while in theory, Europeans were deciding on who gets a seat in the EU legislature, in practice the election was also an informal vote of confidence for governments and leaders across the bloc.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, for instance, called a snap general election after his leftist Syriza suffered a blow in Sunday’s European and regional elections. The poor performance of Germany’s Social Democrats has raised questions over the viability of their governing coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives. And in Italy, the far-right League’s strong showing could tempt them to trigger a new election.
Here are the results of the European Parliament by country:
Not even victory in the European election could save Chancellor Sebastian Kurz following a week of political turmoil. Provisional results showed Kurz’s center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) winning 34.9 percent of the vote — up about 8 percentage points compared to the last European election in 2014. On Monday afternoon, however, he was ousted in a vote of no confidence.
His former coalition partners, the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), lost only a couple of percentage points after the so-called Ibiza scandal, coming third with 17.2 percent. The ÖVP-FPÖ coalition government collapsed in spectacular fashion last week after secretly recorded footage emerged showing Heinz-Christian Strache — then vice chancellor and FPÖ leader — attempting to trade public contracts for campaign support from a woman he believed to be a wealthy Russian.
The opposition Social Democrats (SPÖ), which along with the FPÖ voted against Kurz in Monday’s confidence motion, came in second place with 23.4 percent, down slightly from 2014. The Greens came fourth with 14 percent, tripling their vote share compared to the 2017 general election but losing one of their current three seats. — Zia Weise
The far-right Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) had a huge win in Belgium’s triple election Sunday, gaining 12.6 percentage points in Flanders and finishing second in the region with 18.5 percent.
The win for the anti-immigration, separatist party in Flanders stands in stark contrast to the Greens winning in Brussels with 6 percentage points and in the southern part of the country with 7.3 points, as well as a breakthrough for the far-left Workers’ Party across the country.
These victories came at the cost of parties that governed with outgoing Prime Minister Charles Michel in past years. The right-wing conservative New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) remained the largest party in Belgium, winning around 24.8 percent of Flemish votes, but it dropped more than 7 percentage points. Michel’s own Reformist Movement finished second in the southern Wallonia region but dropped around 5 percentage points there and in Brussels.
The results leaves Belgium fractured as political leaders start tough talks to form the country’s federal and regional governments in coming months. — Simon van Dorpe, Laurens Cerulus and Hanne Cokelaere
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov won the European election comfortably and his finance minister quipped that the former firefighter and bodyguard would stay “driving the jeep” for years to come. Borisov’s GERB party won 31 percent, while the opposition Socialists won 24 percent, according to provisional results.
One of the striking factors of the Bulgarian election was that entrenched support for GERB even weathered a corruption scandal over discounted housing for party members.
Much attention centers on whether controversial media tycoon Delyan Peevski, second on the list for the party aligned with Bulgaria’s Turkish community, will take up a seat in Brussels. He gained international notoriety in 2013 when Bulgarians poured into the streets to protest (successfully) against his appointment as national security chief. Reporters Without Borders calls him the “notorious embodiment” of oligarch culture. Peevski casts himself as the unfairly maligned victim of smear campaigns.
The head of his party is declining to say whether Peevski will take up his place in the ALDE bloc. — Christian Oliver
It was a tight race between two big parties for most of Croatia’s 11 spots in the European Parliament. In percentage terms, the ruling party, the center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), edged out its center-left rivals the Social Democrats (SDP), by 22.72 percent to 18.71 percent. The HDZ won four seats and the Social Democrats claimed three, with four smaller parties getting one seat apiece. After Brexit, the Social Democrats will gain an additional seat. — Eddy Wax & Mare Knežević
In Cyprus, the ruling Democratic Rally scored a narrow win over the leftist opposition Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), winning 29.02 percent versus AKEL’s 27.49 percent. With this result, they will both retain their two seats each in the European Parliament. The center-left Democratic Party and the Socialist EDEK each won one of the country’s six seats.
Turkish Cypriots were among the night’s winners: AKEL candidate Niyazi Kızılyürek will become the first-ever Turkish Cypriot MEP to sit in the European Parliament. — Zia Weise
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš may have won a Pyrrhic victory in this weekend’s European election, with results suggesting that his ruling two-party coalition is losing steam. Though Babiš’ ANO movement easily won the poll, receiving 21.18 percent of ballots cast, the result represents a significant decline from the 29.64 percent the party received in the 2017 parliamentary election.
In addition, Babiš’ partner in his minority government, the Social Democrats, won only 3.95 percent — a result that, in a general election, would effectively doom the coalition. On the other hand, the weekend’s vote was a success for the two largest opposition parties, the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS) and the staunchly pro-EU Czech Pirate Party, who received 14.54 and 13.95 percent, respectively. The pro-EU Stan-Top 09 coalition also did well, winning 11.65 percent.
Voter turnout in the Czech Republic was 28.72 percent, compared to only 18.2 percent in 2014. — Siegfried Mortkowitz
In Denmark, the big shock was a collapse in support for the far-right Danish People’s Party, which lost more than half its votes and three of its four seats. Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl said rising concerns about climate change along with long-running scandals over funding had undermined support for his party. “We must take stock and fight on,” Thulesen Dahl said.
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen was the night’s big winner. His Liberal Party did much better than expected and gained two seats in the European Parliament, finishing first ahead of the Social Democrats, which underperformed. Polls had the Social Democrats in line for four to five seats, but they’ll end up with three.
The result was a welcome shot in the arm for Rasmussen with national elections coming up early next month. The Liberal Party is currently trailing the Social Democrats in opinion polls ahead of the June 5 vote. — Charlie Duxbury and Ryan Heath
In Estonia, the far-right EKRE was shunted aside and won just one seat shortly after joining the government following a general election in March. The liberal Reform party, which in March was elbowed out of government talks, topped the poll.
The surprise were the Social Democrats, which came in second place and won two of the country’s six seats. In the March general election, they came in fourth. The Center Party of Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, meanwhile, came third. — Ryan Heath
In Finland, the Greens were the surprise of the night, coming in second with 16 percent behind the center-right National Coalition Party, which took 20.8 percent. “The Greens are now among the big parties,” party leader Pekka Haavisto told supporters after the results were announced. Their seat number, however, seems unchanged from 2014 — two of Finland’s 13 seats.
The Social Democrats, which won a national election in April, had the most disappointing night, coming in third place behind the Greens. — Ryan Heath and Charlie Duxbury
President Emmanuel Macron set out to beat the far right and win a popular mandate for his pro-EU platform. He fell short on both counts.
Instead, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally was in first place with 23.31 percent of the vote versus 22.41 percent for Macron’s Renaissance list. Le Pen’s group performed less well than it had in the 2014 European Parliament election, however.
The big surprise of the night was the stronger-than-expected performance by the French Green party, winning 13.47 percent of the vote. — Rym Momtaz and Laura Kayali
Germany’s Social Democrats have hit rock bottom. Support for the party slumped to 15.8 percent in the European election according to provisional results, down from 27.3 percent in 2014. That put the Social Democrats behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU at 28.9 percent and — for the first time in a national vote — behind the Greens at 20.5 percent.
For the Greens, it’s a major surge — double their 2014 result — that establishes them as Germany’s leading left-wing party.
The SPD also lost regional elections Sunday in the small state of Bremen, held by the Social Democrats for 73 years, where it finished second behind the CDU. For the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Sunday’s results were a mixed bag: with 11 percent it did better than in the 2014 European election, but worse compared with the 2017 German general election. In two east German states, the AfD even beat the CDU to first place.
Germany also saw a significant rise in turnout, which was estimated at 61.5 percent, up from just 48.1 percent in 2014. — Janosch Delcker, Joshua Posaner and Zia Weise
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a snap general election after his leftist Syriza party was mauled in both the European election and regional polls on Sunday.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of the center-right New Democracy opposition party, hailed the votes as a sign that he could lead Greeks to a new “more optimistic era.” New Democracy won 33 percent of the vote in the EU poll, versus Syriza’s 24 percent. — Christian Oliver
The ruling Fidesz party won the election in Hungary, as predicted. It took 13 seats and 52.33 percent of the popular vote. Currently suspended from the center-right European People’s Party, Fidesz’s future in Brussels is unclear.
Speaking to supporters after the results were announced, Viktor Orbán offered a hint. The prime minister said that he has got a mandate from Hungarian voters to do three things: stop migration in Europe, defend the Europe of nations, and defend Europe’s Christian culture. “We will work together with everyone who wants to stop migration,” Orbán said.
But the big surprise of the night for Hungarians was a dramatic shift in the makeup of Orbán’s opposition. The Democratic Coalition, a party that currently belongs to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats but could gravitate toward a liberal alliance, took four seats. At the same time, Momentum — a member of ALDE — entered the European Parliament for the first time, sending two women in their early 30s to Brussels. The Socialists and far-right Jobbik both collapsed, winning one seat each, while the Greens didn’t win any seats. — Lili Bayer
The big story in Ireland is the advance of the Green Party, which turned around a political decimation in 2011 to top the poll in the Dublin constituency in the European election. Counting was still underway to allocate Ireland’s 11 MEP seats as of Monday midday, slowed by the sheer number of votes that had to be tallied following simultaneous local elections, European elections, a referendum on liberalizing divorce laws and votes on directly elected city mayors.
Initial results show Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s center-right Fine Gael party has won the most first-preference votes in the European vote with 21 percent, followed by the Green Party on 18 percent, the center-right opposition Fianna Fáil on 14 percent and the left-wing Sinn Féin on 11 percent.
Yet Varadkar had a lackluster election overall with his party disappointing in local elections and the vote overshadowed by a scandal over a personal injury claim of a Fine Gael lawmaker who fell off a swing. Rivals Fianna Fáil were on course to solidify their lead in local councils, while Greens saw historic gains, making advances into rural communities previously viewed as inhospitable for the party and coming within reach of gaining an unprecedented three MEPs.
Varadkar has nevertheless courted speculation of an election in the summer, with the aim of securing a stable government majority ahead of the new Brexit D-Day in October. — Naomi O’Leary
Results in Italy drove a wedge between the ruling coalition parties, the League and the 5Star Movement. The far-right League was the undisputed winner, with just over 34 percent of the vote according to provisional results — putting it comfortably in front of the center-left Democratic Party and streets ahead of its partner in national government, the populist 5Star Movement, which only managed 17 percent.
League leader Matteo Salvini, who also serves as one of Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, said voters had given the League “a historic mission” and that the EU would be forced to change.
“It’s not just Italy, it’s [Marine] Le Pen in France, [Nigel] Farage in the U.K., it’s Hungary, Poland …” he declared. “I am counting on having allies everywhere to save the EU … to change its rules,” he added. “We finally have to change after decades of bureaucrats and bankers’ rules.”
The League’s strong showing means the leadership will be tempted to trigger a general election, which could result in the party becoming the senior partner in government, possibly at the head of a right-wing coalition. “If the projections are confirmed, the government will last a few more weeks at most,” one League official said. — Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli, Jacopo Barigazzi and Eddy Wax
Five Latvian parties have won seats in the European Parliament. New Unity, the party of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš which is part of the center-right European People’s Party, topped the poll and took two seats, according to provisional results.
The Social Democratic party Harmony and the right-wing National Alliance also took two seats each, while the Latvian Russian Union and the liberal pro-EU Development/For! each won one seat. Voter turnout stood at 33.6 percent. — Lili Bayer
Economist Gitanas Nausėda won a runoff election Sunday to become Lithuania’s president, defeating former Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė in a landslide.
Meanwhile in the European poll, turnout stood at 52.88 percent. The opposition Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, a member of the European People’s Party, won three seats, according to preliminary results.
The Social Democratic Party of Lithuania won two seats. Meanwhile, the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union—currently the biggest party in Lithuania’s national legislature — took merely two seats, while four smaller parties got one seat each. — Lili Bayer
The Christian Social People’s Party (of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker) lost a seat to the gain of the Democratic Party of current Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
The country of only 590,000 people has the bare minimum of six seats in the European Parliament. In Sunday’s vote, the Democratic Party and Christian Social People’s Party both finished up with two seats. — Christian Oliver
Prime Minister Joesph Muscat’s Labor Party had a successful night, and will be sending four of the country’s six MEPs.
Labour got 55.9 percent of the vote, with the Nationalist Party on 36.2 percent, according to provisional results. Current Labor MEPs Miriam Dalli and Alfred Sant (a former prime minister) have been reelected, together with newbies Alex Agius Saliba and Josianne Cutajar.
For the Nationalists, current MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa will be returning. Labor’s majority was just over 42,500 votes. Outside the main two parties, the big winner was Norman Lowell, of the extreme-right Imperium Europa party, who won just shy of 10,000 votes. — Paul Dallison
Frans Timmermans’ Labor Party is the big winner in the Netherlands, doubling its seat number to six. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy gained one seat, coming in second.
The Christian Democrats, previously the biggest Dutch party in the European Parliament, are set to lose one seat, ending with four. Newcomer Thierry Baudet and his far-right Forum for Democracy — expected to become the election’s big winner after coming in first in provincial elections in March — ended up with three seats. The big loser of the evening is Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which lost all of its four seats, trailing behind the Party for the Animals and a senior party (50Plus), which each got one seat.
However, once the Brits leave the EU and its seats are reallocated, the Freedom Party will be able to send an MEP to Brussels. The other two ex-U.K. seats allocated to the Netherlands would go to Rutte’s VDD and Forum for Democracy. —Eline Schaart
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party scored an important victory in the European election, according to provisional results. PiS won 45.56 percent, defeating the European Coalition — a grouping of five opposition parties — which took 38.30 percent.
Far behind was the new left-wing Wiosna party, with 6.04 percent. Despite earlier estimates, Konfederacja — a grouping of far-right parties — hasn’t passed the 5 percent threshold and will not get a seat in the European Parliament. Voter turnout was 45.42 percent — the highest-ever for a European election in Poland. Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of PiS and Poland’s de facto ruler, called the result “a very important day.”
He steeled his cheering supporters for national elections this fall, where PiS hopes to win another four years in power. “The final battle for the future of this country is this fall,” he said. “And we have to win.” — Jan Cienski and Zosia Wanat
The governing Socialists scored a clear victory in Portugal with 33.4 percent, a boost for Prime Minister António Costa, who’s hoping for reelection on October 6. They are expected to take nine of Portugal’s 21 seats, up from eight in 2014.
In second place, the center-right Social Democratic Party scored 22 percent for six seats, the same as in 2014. Its partner in the EPP group, the conservative CDS-People’s Party, scored a disappointing 6.2 percent but kept its single seat. In a battle for the far-left vote, the Left Bloc was the clear winner on 9.8 percent, doubling its seat count to two. Behind came the Portuguese Communist Party, which finished with 6.9 percent and two seats, one fewer than in 2014.
The big surprise of the night was the success of the People-Animals-Nature party which scored 5.1 percent and elected its first MEP. PAN’s success adds one seat to Europe’s “Green wave” — the party announced Sunday it will sit with the Greens.
The country again bucked Europe’s nationalist trend. Neither of the two far-right parties running in Sunday’s vote came close to winning a seat. The biggest managed just 1.5 percent. Portugal was also against trend on turnout, however, with abstention levels at a record 68.4 percent. — Paul Ames
Romania’s European election ended with a huge blow to the ruling Social Democratic PSD, which came in second place at 23.39 percent, scoring its weakest results in a decade. The National Liberal Party, an opposition party belonging to the European People’s Party, scored 26.79 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.
The biggest upset, however, came from USR Plus, an anti-corruption alliance led by former prime minister and European Commissioner Dacian Cioloș, which won 20.4 percent. They are set to join the Parliament’s liberal ALDE bloc and Macron’s Renaissance in a centrist alliance. A new social democratic party led by former Prime Minister Victor Ponta also won two seats with 6.61 percent.
Frustration was high among thousands of Romanian expats who queued up for hours at Romanian embassies and consulates to cast their vote on Sunday — with many of them not being able to do so. Romanians also overwhelmingly voted “No” in a non-binding referendum on whether the government should be allowed to offer pardons and amnesty in corruption cases, and on the broader powers governments have to change judiciary-related laws. On Monday, Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrats, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in a case involving fake jobs for party workers.
Meanwhile, the ruling PSD’s positioning in the Parliament is uncertain after the Party of European Socialists froze relations with the party earlier this year over rule-of-law concerns. — Anca Gurzu
Progressive Slovakia-SPOLU, a new pro-EU coalition, scored a stunning victory in Slovakia, coming first with 20.11 percent. The ruling SMER-SD party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico came in second with 15.72 percent, nearly 9 percent less than the party received five years ago. The far-right L’SNS won 12.07 percent.
The results represent another chapter in the transformation of the Slovak political landscape following the murders of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, in February 2018. Earlier this year, political novice Zuzana Čaputová, a former vice chairman of Progressive Slovakia, was elected the country’s first female president.
The Slovakian Statistical Office said that 22.74 percent of Slovakia’s eligible voters cast their ballots — a substantial improvement over 2014, when only 13.02 percent voted in the European election, the lowest turnout in all of Europe. — Siegfried Mortkowitz
Overall, Slovenia was safe territory for the center-right European People’s Party, which took four of the Alpine country’s eight seats. The Socialists took two seats, as did the Liberals. — Christian Oliver
Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez strengthened his hand after last month’s general election victory by coming out on top in triple European, regional and local elections on Sunday. The Socialist PSOE party won in 10 of the 12 autonomous regions being fought over and gained six MEPs, meaning Sánchez will send a troop of 20 to Parliament.
The malaise for Pablo Casado’s center-right Popular Party (PP) continued as it lost four MEPs. Yet the PP did manage to wrest control of the city of Madrid from leftist mayor Manuela Carmena. In the Madrid region, a possible coalition between the far-right Vox, Ciudadanos and the PP could keep the Socialists from power. Vox, which won around 10 percent of the vote in April’s general election, managed only around 6 percent in the European election, handing them three seats.
Catalan separatists Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras were both elected as MEPs but there is doubt over whether they will be able to take up their seats, as the former risks arrest if he returns to Spain, and the latter is in prison. — Eddy Wax
In Sweden, support for the Social Democrats slipped slightly compared with 2014, but the party still managed to come out on top with 23.6 percent of the vote. “I would have liked to have seen a better result and make gains,” party leader and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told supporters at a gathering in Stockholm. “But this is a good result, we get five seats and maintain our position.”
The biggest winners were the far-right Sweden Democrats, who saw their share of the vote rise by 5.7 percent in 2014 to 15.4 percent — though that’s a slight decrease from last year’s general election, in which they won 17.5 percent. They finished third behind the center-right Moderate Party.
The Greens, the junior party in government in Sweden, did better than expected, securing 11.4 percent of the vote. — Charlie Duxbury
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, formed only a few months ago, was the clear winner, gaining at least 28 seats in the European Parliament. But it was undeniably dismal for the U.K.’s main parties, Labour and the Conservatives.
The Tories will return just three MEPs to the Parliament, while Labour leaked some of its vote to the firmly anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, which surged to second place nationwide. The night was also good for the Green Party, which are up to seven MEPs from three.
Farage told the BBC Monday that his Brexit Party would field candidates all over the country in the next general election, and said that it deserved a seat at the negotiating table with Brussels in the Brexit talks. — Eddy Wax