Europeans headed to the polls in their tens of millions yesterday as 21 countries chose their champions in a battle between the nationalist right and pro-EU forces to chart a course for the union.
Turnout by midday was higher than it had been in 2014 in some countries, notably France and Romania, and roughly stable in others, as reports began to trickle in from around the continent.
Seven EU member states had already voted, but no official results can be published until rest have taken part. The European Parliament will give a voting estimate at 1815 GMT and provisional results will begin to emerge from 2100 GMT.
Eurosceptic parties opposed to the project of ever closer union hope to capture as many as a third of the seats in the 751-member Strasbourg assembly, disrupting the pro-integration consensus.
The far-right parties of Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen will lead this charge, and anti-EU ranks will be swelled by the Brexit Party of British populist Nigel Farage.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has taken it upon himself to act as figurehead for the centrist and liberal parties hoping to shut the nationalists out of key EU jobs and decision-making.
“Once again Macron is daring us to challenge him. Well let’s take him at his word: On May 26, we’ll challenge him in the voting booth,” Le Pen told a rally on Friday.