Far Right’s Rise Cools After German Party Hit With Spy Scandal

(Bloomberg) -- Support for far-right parties appears to have plateaued ahead of European-wide elections in June, signaling that a spying scandal in Germany could be damaging their reputation.

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The Identity and Democracy alliance, which counts France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’s Geert Wilders among its members, has seen its rise stall, according a polling average compiled by Europe Elects and reported by Euractiv. It’s currently the sixth largest political grouping in the European Parliament.

The ID is projected to win 11.2% of the vote, the same as in a poll last month. That would give it 84 seats in the assembly, down from December when it appeared on track to win 93 seats, the data showed.

Support for one of the ID’s largest member parties, the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, slipped after allegations of links to Chinese intelligence and a pro-Russian media organization.

The anti-immigrant party, which has raised the idea of a German version of Brexit and rails against European Central Bank policy, is vying for second place in Germany with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, the poll found.

The AfD also fell behind Scholz’s party for the first time since last summer in the most recent Forsa poll for RTL/ntv published Tuesday. That survey gauged voter intentions for Germany’s national election, which is next due in the fall of 2025.

European political parties are intensifying their campaigns five weeks ahead of bloc-wide ballots for 720 seats in the European Parliament. The vote will also pave the way for selecting the leaders of European institutions, including the bloc’s executive, now run by Ursula von der Leyen.

The stakes are high for the 27-member alliance, where the winners will set the agenda for the next five years on the clean-tech transition and bolstering defense capabilities over Russia’s war in Ukraine. Earlier wins by far-right leaders including Wilders sparked warnings of potential paralysis for the EU’s agenda and risks to the bloc’s support for Ukraine if populists gain more seats in June.

Read more: Europe Risks Paralysis If Far Right Gains, Party Leader Warns

The largest political group — the center-right European People’s Party — maintained its 23% share in polls, which would give it 183 seats. The center-left S&D is projected to win 140 seats, while centrist-liberal group Renew is seen getting 86 seats. That would give the three parties an absolute majority in the chamber.

Support for Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists party rebounded slightly to 11.8% of the vote from 11.2% a month earlier.

Both, the Greens and the Left alliance saw their projected seat numbers drop.

In each constituency, Europe Elects considers polls published in the previous 90 days, using only the latest poll published by each firm.

The elections also come amid growing attempts to undermine the process through fraud and disinformation, officials warned. False instructions on how to vote, pens with disappearing ink and claims of physical threats to polling stations, including fake bomb alerts, are among tactics that have been used in the bloc’s member states, Delphine Colard, a parliament spokesperson, said Monday.

The parliament, along with other European institutions, is working to reinforce monitoring of disinformation efforts including deepfakes. “We know there is a huge pro-Kremlin campaign to also seek disengagement of citizens in favor of parliamentary democracy,” Colard said.

Read more: Meta Risks EU Fines Over Kremlin Lies on Facebook, Instagram

--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss.

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