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  • Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders takes a photo during the European far-right leaders meeting in Koblenz, Germany, January 21.

    Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders takes a photo during the European far-right leaders meeting in Koblenz, Germany, January 21. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 March 2019

Leftist leaders have voiced caution over a possible rise of the far-right in the EU, particularly as Steve Bannon has been helping to unite a front.

If a German newspaper’s polling is right, far-right parties are poised to double their seats in the European Parliament election this May, while mainstream conservative and Social Democratic groups could face greater losses

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Reduced support for mainstream parties would mean that they could not form a "grand coalition" in the parliament such as in Germany, so shows a poll of over 9,500 people in six countries carried out in late February and early March.  About 512.6 million people live in the European Union, though about 65.8 million reside in the United Kingdom, which is due to leave the EU in the coming weeks.

The poll, published Saturday, showed the far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom Group, were likely to win 67 seats, up from 37 currently. That includes Austria's FPO party and Marine Le Pen's National Rally party in France. Far-right parties came out top in three of the six countries surveyed - France, Italy and Poland, Bild reported. Germany, Austria, and Spain were also surveyed.

Conservative and left-leaning political leaders have been bracing for strong gains by far-right parties in the May elections. They have also expressed concern about a pledge by United States President Donald Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon to help unite Europe's far-right ahead of the election, who was also active around far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign in Brazil.

The poll confirmed deep skepticism about established mainstream parties and indicated that the rightward shift that has swept Europe in recent years was slated to continue on the European level.

The conservative European People's Party, which includes Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, was expected to lose 43 seats, dropping to 174, while the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats was seen shedding 45 seats to 141.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe would add 33 seats to reach 101, while the European Greens would lose 8 seats to reach 44, according to the poll results. In Germany, Merkel's conservatives were favored by 29 percent of those surveyed, followed by the Social Democrats with 16 percent and the Greens with 15 percent.

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