Bishops urge EU leaders to tackle voter disillusionment following elections

Bishops urge EU leaders to tackle voter disillusionment following elections



A man receives his ballot for the European elections in a polling station in The Hague on June 6, 2024, on the first day of the European Parliament election. / Credit: Nick Gammon/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Newsroom, Jun 11, 2024 / 14:45 pm (CNA).


Amid political tensions across the continent following the weekend European Parliament elections, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) has issued a statement commenting on the preliminary results of the 2024 elections.


While acknowledging the democratic exercise involving over 370 million voters across 27 countries, COMECE underscored the pressing issue of persistent voter disengagement and the alarming rise of nationalist, Euroskeptic parties.


The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe on June 5 issued a toolkit in light of concerning developments, including pro-family policies.


The provisional election results show that the European People’s Party maintains its position as the largest bloc in Parliament, with 185 seats, followed by the center-left Renew Europe group, which has 79 seats.


However, migration-critical parties on the right made notable gains, particularly in founding EU member states like France and Italy.


The 2024 European Parliament elections provisional results as of 10 June. Credit: European Parliament
The 2024 European Parliament elections provisional results as of 10 June. Credit: European Parliament

In Germany, the center-right CDU/CSU emerged as the top party with 30% of the vote, but the far-right Alternative für Deutschland surged to second place with 15.9%, a development that has alarmed German Church leaders.


According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen warned that the “strengthening of right-wing populist forces” is a wake-up call to “defend our democracy with all our strength.”


Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party triumphed, but voter turnout slipped below 50%.


Italian bishops, led by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, had encouraged active participation in the elections to shape Europe’s future.


French bishops likewise saw the far-right National Rally winning 32% of votes in their nation, eclipsing President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party. Similar parties gained ground in several other EU states as well.


Despite the decisive shift to the right, COMECE noted that pro-EU parties were still set to hold a majority in the new Parliament.


The bishops called on newly elected members of European Parliament and future European commissioners “to work to reduce the perceived gap between the European Union and its citizens and to give adequate answers to their real concerns.”


Unfettered mass migration will be a crucial concern, and the EU election results come at a pivotal time for the Catholic Church’s engagement in European politics.


Just days before the vote, a minor controversy erupted in Italy after Zuppi appeared to criticize the government’s proposed constitutional reforms, La Repubblica reported. Meloni curtly reminded the cardinal that “the Vatican is not a parliamentary republic.”