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European elections: Your essential country-by-country guide to the vote

Flags are seen at the European Parliament in Strasbourg
Flags are seen at the European Parliament in Strasbourg Copyright Christian Lutz/AP
Copyright Christian Lutz/AP
By Mared Gwyn JonesEuronews
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Euronews’ correspondents break down what’s at stake in the major national battlegrounds as voters prepare to head to the polls.

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From 6 to 9 June, around 373 million eligible voters in the European Union will elect 720 new members to the European Parliament in the biggest transnational poll in history.

But the vote is likely to be profoundly shaped by domestic issues, despite the EU’s increasingly visible role in addressing common challenges such as security, defence, climate change, cost of living and migration.

The ballot is also set to take the political temperature across the bloc’s 27 countries at a critical juncture for Europe, with far-right forces on the rise while centrist parties see support stagnating in many parts of the continent.

In several member states, the vote has been framed as a referendum on how ruling parties are faring in national governments.

Euronews’ team of correspondents breaks down what to look out for in key countries as Europe heads to the polls.

France: Far-right sensation Bardella poised to crush Macron’s liberals

Marine Le Pen’s 28-year-old protégé, Jordan Bardella, has been front and centre of the campaign in France. The rising star is set to scoop up around a third of the French vote and deliver a historic victory for the far-right National Rally.

With a sharp social media strategy and polished performances in electoral debates, Bardella has tried to use his campaign to prepare the ground for what will likely be Le Pen’s last bid to become president in the upcoming 2027 vote. 

It means a headache for President Emmanuel Macron’s and his liberal Renaissance party, which has progressively plummeted in the polls and could even finish third if socialist wildcard Raphaël Glucksmann sees a last-minute uptick in support.

Macron has scrambled to save his party from humiliation, sending his prime minister to face off Bardella in a head-to-head debate as his lead candidate Valérie Hayer struggled to rein in the far-right surge. A prime-time televised interview with Macron, planned for the eve of the vote, is yet another sign of the anxiety in Macron’s camp that a beating in this election could forebode his downfall.

Grégoire Lory is Euronews' French correspondent in Brussels.

Leader of the French far-right National Rally Marine Le Pen, left and lead candidate of the party for the upcoming European election Jordan Bardella
Leader of the French far-right National Rally Marine Le Pen, left and lead candidate of the party for the upcoming European election Jordan Bardella Thomas Padilla/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Spain: Political debate deeply polarised amid amnesty and corruption rows

Less than seven months after he clinched a second term as Spain’s prime minister by striking a controversial amnesty deal with Catalan separatists, Pedro Sánchez’s socialists are trailing five seats behind the centre-right opposition according to Euronews’ Super Poll.

The centre-right People's Party (PP) is hoping to capitalise on its traditional voters' discontent around the amnesty law as well as a judicial probe into Sánchez’s wife Begoña Gómez. The PP could also capture the past vote of the centrist Citizens (Ciudadanos) party, which is predicted to lose all of its 9 seats.

The far-right Vox party is on track to make small gains, with some polls predicting that another far-right challenger party, The Party’s Over (Se Acabó la Fiesta), could enter the European Parliament for the first time.

While candidates and pundits have aimed to put broad EU issues such as the climate emergency, security and migration at the heart of the electoral debates, the hot domestic issues of corruption and rule of law have continued to dominate the headlines.

Aïda Sánchez Alonso is Euronews' Spanish correspondent in Brussels.

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Demonstrators protest against Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and a potential amnesty law outside the European Parliament, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023
Demonstrators protest against Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and a potential amnesty law outside the European Parliament, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023Jean-Francois Badias/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Italy: Giorgia Meloni eyes big gains at the expense of coalition partners

In a highly tactical move, Italian premier Giorgia Meloni is the only EU leader who has chosen to lead an electoral list as she aims to convert her domestic support into a strong outcome for her Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.

Under the campaign slogan ‘Con Giorgia, l’Italia cambia l’Europa’ (With Giorgia, Italy changes Europe), FdI is topping the Italian poll and is could secure an impressive 23 seats.

But the surge comes at the expense of Meloni’s governing partners in Rome: Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party is set to be the biggest loser of the night in Italy. After finishing first in the last EU election in 2019, Salvini's party could come in fourth or even fifth this time.

The result could not only consolidate Meloni’s domestic power, but also cast her as the kingmaker in Brussels. She’s being courted by outgoing European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on the centre-right, who’s coveting Meloni’s support to secure a second term, as well as France’s Marine Le Pen on the far-right, who wants her backing to merge far-right powers to create a supergroup in the European Parliament.

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Vincenzo Genovese is Euronews' Italian correspondent in Brussels.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni waves from the stage during an electoral rally ahead of the EU parliamentary elections in Rome
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni waves from the stage during an electoral rally ahead of the EU parliamentary elections in RomeAlessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Germany: Ruling coalition under pressure

As in many countries, the vote in Germany is being framed as a referendum on the country’s three-way ruling coalition of socialists, liberals and greens. All ruling parties could see their support stagnate or dip, with the Greens set to take the hardest hit as security and migration overtake climate among voters’ concerns.

The centre-right bloc of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) stands head and shoulder above other contenders. 

Further to the right, the embattled Alternative for Germany (AfD) is also set to see support rise, although much less than predicted earlier this year. The party’s lead candidate Maximilan Krah has been embroiled in an investigation into Chinese and Russian interference, and was recently banned from campaigning after making Nazi comments in the media. It prompted the AfD’s expulsion from its family in the European Parliament.

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The anti-immigration far-left Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht party is also set to enter the European Parliament for the first time with as many as seven seats, as anti-migration AfD voters find a new political home on the extreme left.

Police officers walk past a poster of the Social Democrats for the European elections during the revolutionary May Day demonstration in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, May 1, 2024
Police officers walk past a poster of the Social Democrats for the European elections during the revolutionary May Day demonstration in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, May 1, 2024Ebrahim Noroozi/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Belgium: Far-right Flemish separatists set to deepen divides

The European election in Belgium will no doubt be overshadowed by simultaneous federal and regional elections considered pivotal for the future of the country.

The far-right Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang party - which is openly advocating for Flanders’ secession and the division of the Belgian state - is currently predicted to win around 27% of the Flemish vote.

Vlaams Belang has been cordoned off in the past for its extreme stances, but the surge in its popularity will make the convention hard to uphold, particularly in Flanders.

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A strong performance for Vlaams in the EU ballot will meanwhile bolster Europe’s hard-right camp. The party is calling for a fundamental reform of the European Union by watering down EU powers coincidentally concentrated in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

Vlaams Belang lead candidate in the European elections, Tom Vandendriessche
Vlaams Belang lead candidate in the European elections, Tom VandendriesscheTwitter @vlbelang

Portugal: Early test for new minority government

Just two months after a new minority centre-right government was ushered in, the European election will be an early test of whether Portugal's ruling Democtaic Alliance (AD) is holding its grip on support.

The party has handed over that task to lead candidate Sebastião Bugalho, a 28-year-old former political commentator described by the country's prime minister himself as "a bit controversial" for his hardline right-wing views.

Polls currently put AD neck and neck with the opposition Socialist Party (PS), which was ousted in March’s election after a corruption scandal involving the then socialist prime minister Antonio Costa's chief of staff.

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The probe has dealt a heavy blow to the socialists, but polls suggest they have slowly recuperated support among heartland constituencies.

The far-right Chega party is also set to enter the European Parliament for the very first time with as many as 4 seats, according to Euronews polling. The party has seen a recent upsurge in support, threatening to disrupt Portugal's entrenched two-party political system.

Isabel Marques da Silva is Euronews' Portuguese correspondent in Brussels.

Luis Montenegro, leader of the center-right Democratic Alliance, gestures to supporters after claiming victory in Portugal's election
Luis Montenegro, leader of the center-right Democratic Alliance, gestures to supporters after claiming victory in Portugal's electionArmando Franca/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Hungary: Former Orbán ally becomes election rival

A former insider within Viktor Orbán's hardline right-wing government is hoping to shake up the election in Hungary by mobilising voters disillusioned with the governing Fidesz party's iron grip on power.

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Péter Magyar shocked the nation earlier this year when he spoke out against the government's corruption and propaganda machine, denouncing the Orbán-run 'mafia state'. His newly formed Respect and Freedom (TISZA) party is set to enter the European Parliament for the first time with as many as four seats.

Euronews' Super Poll puts the alliance between Orbán's Fidesz and conservative allies in the Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) comfortably on the top of the polls at around 10 seats, but it would crucially see their delegation in Brussels hold a minority of Hungary's 23 seats for the first time.

This election has also seen Hungarian state TV organise its first televised electoral debate in almost two decades, in a country where Viktor Orbán holds a firm grip on the media.

Péter Magyar, a rising challenger to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, enters the stage at a campaign rally in the rural city of Debrecen, Hungary, on May 5, 2024.
Péter Magyar, a rising challenger to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, enters the stage at a campaign rally in the rural city of Debrecen, Hungary, on May 5, 2024. Denes Erdos/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Poland: Security in the spotlight

If there's one thing that unites Poland's ruling and opposition parties, it's their firm commitment to supporting Ukraine - and standing up to Russia and its proxies.

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Prime minister Donald Tusk's ruling Civic Coalition and the ultra-conservative opposition Law and Justice (PiS), currently neck and neck in the polls, have both put the security of Poland at the heart of their European electoral campaigns.

Poland, which borders both Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, has recently seen a surge in the number of irregular migrants attempting to cross the border from Belarus, as part of what Tusk has called a "hybrid war."

The far-right Confederation is also expected to enter the European Parliament for the first time with five MEPs.

A soldier stands guard by a metal barrier, in Bialowieza Forest, eastern Poland, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024
A soldier stands guard by a metal barrier, in Bialowieza Forest, eastern Poland, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024Czarek Sokolowski/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Greece: The state of democracy and the economy top voters' concerns

The latest Eurobarometer suggests 60% of Greeks are not satisfied with the state of democracy in their country and want the EU to make defending the rule of law a priority.

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Discontent still runs deep in the aftermath of the 2022 scandal which revealed the illegal wiretapping of opposition figures and journalists by the government of prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, followed by a 2023 rail accident which saw the government accused of protecting the politicians involved. Both cases are suspected to have been covered up by the ruling elite.

Mitsotakis went on to win a majority of seats in the Greek parliamentary elections last June, a majority which many believe perpetuate a lack of accountability and opacity within government ranks. Euronews' Super Poll nonethless puts Mitsotakis' New Democracy party as the most voted party.

The cost of living crisis is also a key issue for voters of all ages, with Greek voters looking to Europe for common solutions.

Maria Psara is Euronews' Greek correspondent in Brussels.

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People walk past the names of the victims of last year's train collision painted on a sidewalk in front of parliament, in Athens, Greece, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.
People walk past the names of the victims of last year's train collision painted on a sidewalk in front of parliament, in Athens, Greece, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Michael Varaklas/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Ireland: Housing and refugee arrivals key issues on campaign trail

Recent polls suggest a last-minute drop in support for the main opposition party, the left-wing Sinn Fein, while the centre-right Fine Gael party has caught up, buoyed by the change in the party's leader and Ireland's prime minister, Simon Harris.  

Independent candidates are also surging and look set to take at least three of Ireland's fourteen seats in the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of far-right candidates vying for seats across the country is unprecedented, coinciding with a major surge in the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers from Ukraine and other war-torn countries. The relatively new phenomenon is taking place while the government continues to struggle with a crippling housing crisis, which has left tens of thousands of citizens including children homeless and living in temporary accommodation. 

The ire of the far-right is heavily directed at refugee families, and in the last couple of years attacks, arson and violent protests have taken place outside refugee centres where children have been present. 

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However, support for the European Union overall remains high, with 84% support for membership.

Shona Murray is Euronews' Brussels correspondent.

Ireland's Prime Minister Simon Harris speaks to the media during a press conference outside the Government Buildings, in Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday May 22, 2024.
Ireland's Prime Minister Simon Harris speaks to the media during a press conference outside the Government Buildings, in Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday May 22, 2024.Damien Storan/AP

Sándor Zsiros and Andreas Rogal also contributed to the reporting.

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