European elections: pro-Russian actors advance in Germany

The European Parliament elections in Germany have revealed significant shifts in the political landscape, with Eurosceptic and pro-Russian parties making notable gains. However, the governing coalition retained the majority of the German representation in the EP.

The turnout in the European elections in Germany reached 64.8%, the highest since the country’s reunification in 1990. It surpassed the previous record of 61.4% in 2019, Spiegel reported. Germany, with the largest representation in the European Parliament, will have 96 seats. 

The CDU/CSU bloc won the election

The opposition bloc, consisting of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), emerged as the clear winner, securing 30% of the vote.

This outcome reflects growing dissatisfaction with the current government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) saw its support decline to 14%, a significant drop from previous elections.

In contrast, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) gained 16% of the vote, capitalizing on discontent in the eastern regions of Germany despite scandals over ‘foreign influence’ involving its leadership. The far-right is seen as a pro-Russian party.

The Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), both part of the governing coalition, also suffered losses, securing 12% and 5% of the vote, respectively.

The newly established Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW) managed to gain 6% in its first election, indicating a potential new force in German politics. However, because its representation in the EP is tiny, this nationalist left party, which is also seen as pro-Russian, will not have any influence.

Key domestic issues

Voters resonate with traditional conservative views in the southern and western regions, contributing to the CDU/CSU’s victory.

Meanwhile, the AfD’s performance in the east underscores a regional divide, with voters there increasingly leaning towards populist and radical nationalist rhetoric.

The election results also signal a shift in voter priorities, with domestic issues such as economic management and immigration policies taking center stage.

The coalition government, struggling with internal discord and economic challenges, failed to present a united front, which likely contributed to their poor performance.

The rise of pro-Russian parties

The election results also reflect broader trends within the EU, where center-right and right-wing parties have made significant gains.

The rise of the AfD and the entry of BSW into the political stage puts more pressure on the government regarding the country’s foreign policy, especially when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine war.

The AfD and BSW have a negative stance on EU sanctions against Russia and oppose arms supplies to Ukraine.

As one of the EU’s leading powers, Germany’s policies heavily influence the bloc’s overall approach to Russia and Ukraine.

A potential influence of right-wing and populist parties within Germany could soften the EU’s collective position against Russian aggression, which may jeopardize Europe’s security and stability.

Ursula von der Leyen: “We need to build a bastion against the extremes”

The outgoing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a member of the German CDU party, emphasized the need to build a “bastion against the extremes” on both the left and right.

With the European People’s Party (EPP) projected to remain the largest group in the European Parliament, forming a stable majority will be crucial to counterbalance the growing influence of far-right and populist forces.

At the same time, a strong leadership in the EU is more critical than ever to address the challenges posed by rising populism, geopolitical tensions, and ongoing conflicts.

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