Who holds the center in Europe?

Marine Le Pen, French far-right leader and French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National - RN) party candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, surrounded by journalists, distributes leaflets as she campaigns with Henin-Beaumont mayor Steeve Briois and local RN politician Bruno Bilde at a market in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, June 14, 2024. [Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

"The center held!" Ursula von der Leyen declared with relief on the night of the European Parliament elections. Indeed, the European People's Party, the Socialists and Democrats, Renew Europe, and other centrist groups, maintained their majority in the EP. Far-right parties - scattered among different parliamentary groupings - made some gains on their 2019 results, for a grand total of about 25 percent of seats. However, their influence is disproportionately large, as, in some countries which play a leading role in shaping EU policy, centrist parties suffered a serious blow. In France, the first-place finish of Marine Le Pen's extreme-right National Rally prompted President Emmanuel Macron to call snap parliamentary elections for June 30. In Germany, the extreme-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) came second, gaining more votes than the three parties in Olaf Scholz's coalition...

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