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EU election: Germany rules out snap election after AfD gains

Published June 10, 2024last updated June 10, 2024

The far-right AfD tops the polls in eastern Germany, while the center-right CDU/CSU bloc claims overall victory in the EU elections 2024. German participation hits a post-reunification high. DW has more.

From left to right: the FDP's Christian Lindner, the SPD's Olaf Schoz, and the Greens Robert Habeck, seen in 2023
All three parties in Germany's coalition government saw lackluster results in the 2024 EU election Image: Ben Kriemann/PicOne/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

The German government has said there are no plans for a snap election after all three parties in the governing coalition performed poorly in the EU parliamentary elections on Sunday.  

German voters turned out in record numbers on Sunday, with 64.8% of eligible voters participating. The far-right AfD gained the most votes in Germany's eastern federal states

A look at the latest developments following the European Parliament elections on Monday, June 10. This blog has now closed.

Skip next section What to expect next after EU elections
June 10, 2024

What to expect next after EU elections

One day after the European elections it's becoming clearer what the results mean for the future of the bloc, but also for the question of who's going to be at the helm of the European Commission during the next five years. Current President Ursula von der Leyen is aiming for a second term after her European People's Party secured the most seats.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), has also had to face up to the clear drubbing of his coalition government with the environmentalist Greens and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP)

The SPD is calling it a "bitter defeat" after the party's worst outcome ever in a national election, with 13.9%. There were also long faces among the Greens, who dropped to 11.9%. The FDP came in at 5.2%.

Surveys have long shown that about three-quarters of Germans are dissatisfied with the work of the federal government, and the poll ratings of the coalition parties have long been in a slump.

Read more here about what is next for Germany's coalition after the EU elections.

What to expect as dust settles on EU elections

Skip next section Germany's Scholz says no return to 'business as usual' after EU vote
June 10, 2024

Germany's Scholz says no return to 'business as usual' after EU vote

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday evening that the European election results were "bad for all three governing parties" — his Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) — and warned that there could be no return to "business as usual."

Speaking to reporters in Berlin after a meeting with the president of Chile, Scholz said: "We have to do our work and ensure that our country makes progress and becomes more modern, ensuring that support grows so that we can present results and have the trust of citizens at the next federal elections."

After the SPD won just 13.9% of the vote, its worst result in a nationwide democratic election in more than 130 years, Scholz warned that the policies of the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which came second at 15.9%, must not become normalized.

"We should never get used to that," he said. "The task must always be to push them back again."

'We have to get more politically involved'

Despite the electoral drubbing, and the success of the far-right across Germany and other parts of Europe, Scholz insisted that there was ultimately still a significant majority in favor of classic democratic parties.

The conservative opposition Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) won 30% of the vote in Germany. At the EU level, Ursula von der Leyen's conservative alliance, the European People's Party (EPP), also came out as the largest bloc in the parliament. 

Though French President Emmanuel Macron  had responded to a bad result for his party in France by calling snap legislative elections for June, the German Greens insist that the ruling coalition in Berlin will endure.

"There is no need for a vote of confidence," Green co-leader Omid Nouripour said. The Greens won only 11.9% of the vote — down from 20.5% in the 2019 European Parliament election.

Skip next section German government rejects calls for snap election
June 10, 2024

German government rejects calls for snap election

 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck look on after a government statement about current security issues at the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag
Olaf Scholz of the SPD (R) and Robert Habeck of the Greens (C.) have cause to look seriousImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

Germany will not hold a snap election as demanded by the opposition despite bruising EU election results for all three parties in the ruling coalition, the spokesman for Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

Steffen Hebestreit rejected calls from Bavaria's state premier, Markus Söder, to follow in the footsteps of French President Emmanuel Macron, who announced parliamentary elections late on Sunday after suffering his own defeat.

"The election date is next fall as planned, and we plan to follow that through," Hebestreit said, also pointing to Germany and France's different political systems.

A call for snap elections also came from Alice Weidel, the co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which saw a surge in support at the elections for the European Parliament.

Weidel accused the government of making policies against Germans, saying, "People have had enough."

Scholz alarmed by far right gains in EU vote

Skip next section German President Steinmeier warns against 'nationalism and hate'
June 10, 2024

German President Steinmeier warns against 'nationalism and hate'

Emmanuel Macron and Frank-Walter Steinmeier walk through the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane
Emmanuel Macron and Frank-Walter Steinmeier walk through the ruins of Oradour-sur-GlaneImage: Ludovic Marin/REUTERS

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged people not to forget the dangers of nationalism and hate while on a visit to France to honor the victims of a massacre perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II.

He said it was "fittingly on the day after the European elections that I say: Let us never forget the damage done in Europe by nationalism and hate. Let us never forget the miracle of reconciliation the European Union has worked."

Steinmeier highlighted the atrocities committed by the National Socialists and warned against the rise of the far right,a day after extremist right-wing parties achieved large gains in the European Parliament election. 

Skip next section Von der Leyen hails win over political 'extremes' as she seeks to keep top job
June 10, 2024

Von der Leyen hails win over political 'extremes' as she seeks to keep top job

The German head of the EU's executive body, Ursula von der Leyen, had reason to celebrate on Monday after her center-right bloc in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP), gained seats.

"We had a strong win as European People's party. This shows that you can withstand the pressure from the extremes and be successful while being in charge ... of the responsibility of the European Union," she said.

To keep her position as the European Commission president for another term, she needs the support of EU national leaders, as well as majority support in the parliament. This may prove tricky after the major gains made by far-right parties — and parties that have said they would withhold their support if she relied on the far right.

The parties that supported von der Leyen during the previous parliament — the center-right, the center-left and the liberals — won 402 seats in the 720-member chamber.

"In these turbulent times, we need stability, we need accountability and we need continuity," she said, noting that, over the past five years, those parties had "worked together well and constructively in a spirit of trust." 

Analysts say the commission president could also seek support from the weakened Greens and Italy's far-right Prime Minister Georgia Meloni to gain a workable majority.

EU's von der Leyen vows to 'build bastion' against extreme left and right

Skip next section AfD drops top EU candidate from delegation after numerous scandals
June 10, 2024

AfD drops top EU candidate from delegation after numerous scandals

Maximilian Krah speaks to the press in April
Krah is still expected to sit in the European Parliament, albeit not along with the AfD delegationImage: Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party on Monday expelled its former lead candidate for the European Parliament elections from the party's delegation. 

At one point, lead candidate Maximilian Krah became the subject of several major scandals, leading his party to ban him from campaigning before the election.

He made headlines following reported connections with pro-Russian networks, as well as a possible connection to China.

A comment he made downplaying the Nazi SS brigades also led to the AfD's being kicked out of its far-right group in the European Parliament.

Krah will remain a member of the AfD, and will take a seat in the European Parliament. However, the decision means that he will not be included in the AfD's delegation. 

The AfD came in second in Germany's EU parliamentary election, winning nearly 16% of the vote, behind the conservative CDU/CSU bloc. 

The far-right party also saw its biggest electoral success yet in winning over young voters by using social media

On Monday, the AfD also tipped Rene Aust, the party's deputy leader in the central German state of Thuringia, to head its parliamentary delegation, dpa news agency reported. 

Skip next section Turnout in Croatia lowest across the bloc
June 10, 2024

Turnout in Croatia lowest across the bloc

Just 21.3% of eligible voters in Croatia turned out to vote in the European Parliament election, according to data published by the EU.

This put Croatia, which has a history of low turnouts for EU elections, at the bottom of the list for turnout across the bloc.

Doing slightly better were Lithuania and Bulgaria, with 28.9% and 31.8% of their respective electorates casting their votes.

Voters in Belgium — the home of many EU institutions — and Luxembourg were much more eager to cast their ballots, with turnout reaching 89.2% and 82.3%, respectively.

Belgians were also called to vote in national and regional elections at the same time, which may explain in part their high turnout.

Although behind its neighbors, Germany also saw a record turnout for the EU election, with 64.8% of voters participating on Sunday.

Skip next section Auschwitz Committee labels far-right wins 'a depressing turning point'
June 10, 2024

Auschwitz Committee labels far-right wins 'a depressing turning point'

The International Auschwitz Committee has expressed its concern over the sweeping gains made by far-right parties in the EU election.

"For survivors of the Holocaust and the German concentration and extermination camps, this election result is a depressing turning point," Executive Vice President Christoph Heubner said in a statement.

"Europe is losing and forgetting itself: in more and more countries, nationalist and far-right parties are gaining influence, which actually despise the European idea that grew out of the horrors of World War II and the murderous horror of the camps," Heubner said.

Many EU far-right parties have links to 20th-century fascism or more modern neo-Nazis. Even Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD), which originated as a eurosceptic party, has faced repeated scandals due to its members' connections with neo-Nazis or for using Nazi slogans

Nevertheless, Europe remains the great hope for Holocaust survivors, said Heubner.

"And that is precisely why they urgently request that the other parties in the European Parliament protect this European idea and stand together against the agitation and incitement of right-wing extremist forces."

Skip next section German opposition calls for snap elections 'like France'
June 10, 2024

German opposition calls for snap elections 'like France'

Markus Söder, the leader of the German center-right Christian Social Union (CSU) — a Bavarian party allied with the Christian Democrats (CDU) — has called on the government to announce early elections after the coalition parties performed poorly in Sunday's EU election.

"This government is basically finished. And it must now be like France: There have been demands for new elections, there are new elections by Macron," Söder, who is also Bavaria's state premier, told the broadcaster n-tv on Monday morning.

"Our country needs a fresh start," he said. "That's why there should be new elections as soon as possible."

French President Emmanuel Macron called a snap election on Sunday evening after his party fell way behind the far-right National Rally.

The CDU/CSU won 30% of the vote on Sunday — slightly up from 2019 — while the combined vote of the coalition government made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) reached 31% — significantly lower than their combined share in 2019.

Although the three parties govern together, they do not run together in elections and are all members of different European Parliament groups.

EU election results 'huge blow' for Germany's government

Skip next section Bulgaria: Center-right projected to win EU and national elections
June 10, 2024

Bulgaria: Center-right projected to win EU and national elections

The party of former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has come out top in both the European Parliament vote as well as the national parliament vote, based on exit polls.

The pro-Western center-right alliance GERB-SBS gained almost 25% in both polls.

The results of the sixth national elections in just three years seem unlikely to bring the country's political instability to an end.

GERB will likely have a tricky time finding potential coalition partners following anti-corruption protests that brought an end to Borisov's almost decade in power in 2020.

Turnout was also the lowest it has been for a national election since the end of Communist rule, at about 30%.

The lack of a clear route to forming a government could further delay reforms that are required for EU funding and further integration into the Schengen area of free movement.

Skip next section AfD make gains in German local elections
June 10, 2024

AfD make gains in German local elections

Local elections were held in several German states on Sunday, coinciding with the European Parliament elections.

Voters in Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt were called to vote at both the local and EU level.

As with the EU election, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party made gains in eastern Germany, according to provisional results released on Monday. Final results are expected in a few days.

The AfD won local elections in Brandenburg, with 25.7% of the vote (up 9.8 percentage points); in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, with 25.6% of the vote (almost doubling the party's previous local election results); and in Saxony-Anhalt, with 28.1% of the vote — up 11.6 percentage points from 2019.

According to preliminary results, the AfD — which has been investigated for suspected right-wing extremism by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution — was also leading in Saxony.

Brandenburg and Saxony, as well as Thuringia — another eastern state with strong support for the far-right — will hold state-level elections in the fall. The AfD is expected to perform well and may end up entering a state-level government for the first time.

Far-right AfD strong in eastern Germany, among young voters

Skip next section Macron 'confident' for snap election after EU defeat
June 10, 2024

Macron 'confident' for snap election after EU defeat

President Emmanuel Macron said he had confidence in French voters ahead of a snap parliamentary election that he called after the far right won big in France in Sunday's EU election.

"I am confident in the capacity of the French people to make the right choice for themselves and for future generations. My sole ambition is to be useful to our country that I love so much," he wrote on X.

The far-right National Rally (RN) led by Marine Le Pen garnered 32% of the EU vote, far ahead of the Macron ticket with 15%, which was also followed closely by the Socialist bloc with 14%.

Turnout was just over 50%.

French voters will be called out to once again vote in parliamentary elections on June 30, with a second round planned for July 7. Macron made the announcement late on Sunday.

The last parliamentary elections in France were held in 2022, but the result left Macron without a clear majority. The new vote is a gamble by the president that could see him further obstructed for the rest of his final term.

Macron calls for unity against far right

Skip next section Portuguese Socialists claim EU victory
June 10, 2024

Portuguese Socialists claim EU victory

The Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) has claimed victory in the EU election after it won 32.1% of the vote, just beating its main rivals, the conservative Democratic Alliance (AD), with 31.3%.

The far-right populist party Chega won 9.8%, marking its debut in EU elections. The party was founded in 2019 and has risen in popularity in Portugal, one of the European countries to go the longest without having a far-right party in parliament.

The EU vote result mirrors the results of the parliamentary election held in Portugal in March that saw the DA marginally beat the PS but without an overall majority, leaving the center-right and center-left to form a coalition government in an attempt to hold off the far right.

Skip next section German turnout highest since reunification
June 10, 2024

German turnout highest since reunification

More Germans came out to vote in the EU election on Sunday than at any point since reunification in 1990, the electoral commission reported on Monday.

Turnout reached 64.8%, 3.4 percentage points higher than in 2019 (61.4%).

Prior to reunification, the highest turnout for an EU election was the first-ever election in 1979, when 65.7% came out to vote. However, this was an overall lower number of voters as only West Germans could vote.

Subsequent elections hovered between 40% and 50%.

For reference, the turnout for parliamentary elections within Germany has never fallen below 70%.

Skip next section AfD tops polls in eastern Germany
June 10, 2024

AfD tops polls in eastern Germany

The German far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party came out top in the five federal states that make up former East Germany, long a stronghold for the extreme right-wing populists.

While the overall German vote for the AfD came to 15.9%, up from 11% in 2019, in eastern Germany the share was almost double.

A total of 6.5 million people voted for the far-right party, while 9.4 million voted for the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) who came out top in Germany as a whole with 23.7%, up 1.1 percentage points from 2019.

The results for the AfD in the eastern states were as follows, based on provisional data published by the electoral commission on Monday:

  • Saxony — AfD 31.8%
  • Thuringia — AfD 30.7%
  • Saxony-Anhalt — AfD 30.5%
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania — AfD 28.3%
  • Brandenburg — AfD 27.5%

EU vote in Germany sees far-right AfD in second place

In western Germany — and Berlin — the party fared much worse, although with significant variation.

The center-right CDU, along with their sister party the CSU in Bavaria, won the states that make up former West Germany:

  • Bavaria — CSU 39.7%
  • Baden-Württemberg — CDU 32%
  • Lower Saxony — CDU 31.4%
  • North Rhine-Westphalia — CDU 31.2%
  • Schleswig-Holstein — CDU 30.2%
  • Rhineland-Palatinate — CDU 30.7%
  • Hesse — CDU 30%
  • Saarland — CDU 29.3%

The three remaining states representing cities — Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen — were won by the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD) both of which saw an overall drop in their votes.

  • Berlin — Greens 19.6%
  • Hamburg — Greens 21.2%
  • Bremen — SPD 21.5%

CDU/CSU win EU elections in Germany: Michaela Küfner reports

ab/kb (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP, EPD)