French far right beats Macron in EU election

Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Rally chief, celebrates her party’s election win in France | Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images

Marine Le Pen’s party in first place, according to projections.

Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally scored a first-place finish in the EU election in France, besting President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance list, according to early projections of the French vote — a major victory for populist, Euroskeptic forces.

National Rally, a rebranding of Le Pen’s National Front party, scored about 24 percent of the vote, compared to roughly 22.5 percent for Macron’s centrist-liberal party, according to two initial projections.

National Rally was expected to be at the forefront of a nationalist-populist wave across Europe, in which far-right forces were projected to capture as much as one third of seats in the European Parliament. Big gains were also expected for Matteo Salvini’s far-right League in Italy.

In Germany, early results showed the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in fourth place with 10 seats, a gain of three seats compared to 2014.

The AfD’s gains came as Germany’s Social Democrats suffered a collapse at the polls, losing a projected 11 seats. That shortfall, in the EU’s largest country, was expected to dash any center-left hopes of overtaking the center-right European People’s Party as the biggest group in the European Parliament.

POLITICO projections pointed to the EPP holding its top spot, even as mainstream parties were expected to see their overall share of the Parliament shrink.

Europe’s socialists, however, did have one major bright spot: Spain, where Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez led his Progressive Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), to a strong victory over the conservative People’s Party (PP). Initial projections showed the PSOE winning 28.4 percent of the vote, and capturing 18 seats in Parliament, a pick-up of four seats. The PP finished second in Spain with 17.3 percent and 11 seats in Parliament, a loss of five seats.

Spain’s liberal Ciudadanos Party was projected to win 16 percent, the leftist Podemos party to win 12.4 percent, and the far-right Vox Party to win 6.5 percent. That would give the liberals nine seats, the leftists seven seats and the far-right four seats.

The exiled former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, who ran his campaign from Brussels, was also projected to win a seat, along with his former deputy, Oriol Junqueras.

Follow POLITICO’s EU election live blog here.

This article has been updated.

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