A voter walks in a polling station to cast his ballot in Lyon, central France, Sunday, May 26, 2019. France is looking at an epic battle between pro-EU centrist President Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration, far-right flagbearer Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament vote, a duel over Europe's basic values. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

The Latest: Weber hopes for center-ground European stability

May 26, 2019 - 5:45 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on elections for the European Parliament (all times local):

11:40 a.m.

The center-right German candidate to head the European Commission says he hopes voters will back a "Europe of stability" and a united and ambitious continent.

Manfred Weber, whose European People's Party group hopes to retain its status as the biggest in the European Parliament, said after voting in his native Bavaria Sunday: "I don't want to see a right-populist Europe (that) wants to destroy the idea of togetherness ... and I'm also against a Europe which is in the hands of the left."

Ska Keller, a German Green who heads her group's European election slate, said in Berlin that "the European Union should lead the way in climate protection. We need social cohesion, we need to strengthen democracy in Europe and I hope that this will meet with much support."

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11:25 a.m.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says he hopes the European Parliament elections will strengthen the center rather than parties on the far right and left.

Kurz told reporters in Vienna Sunday that he hopes his center-right People's Party will keep first place in the race for seats in the EU legislature.

The vote has turned into a first test of support ahead of a national election in September following the collapse of Kurz's governing coalition a week ago in a scandal surrounding the now-departed leader of the far-right Freedom Party, which was his junior coalition partner.

Regardless of the result, Kurz faces a no-confidence vote brought by the opposition in parliament Monday. He said he expects the Freedom Party and the Social Democrats to back it, which would bring him down.

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10:55 a.m.

Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says that he hopes the outcome of Sunday's European and local elections will lead to more "political stability" for Spain as he starts his attempt to form a government.

Sánchez called on "all the political forces to open a horizon of political stability" after he voted early Sunday morning with his wife in Madrid.

He added that the elections are "to decide the future of progress and wellbeing for the entirety of our country and Europe."

Voter opinion polls point to a victory for Sánchez's Socialist Party in the European elections. Elections are also taking place for administrations in all Spain's cities, including deciding on a second term for the female mayors of Madrid and Barcelona, and 14 of its 19 regions.

Sánchez's Socialists won April 28 national elections in Spain, but fell short of winning an outright majority and will need to earn the support from rivals in Parliament to stay in power.

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10:40 a.m.

Hungary's prime minister says he hopes the European Parliament election will bring a shift toward political parties that want to stop migration.

Viktor Orban said Sunday after casting his vote at a school near his Budapest home that the issue of migration, which he believes is stoppable, "will reorganize the political spectrum in the European Union."

Orban, whose Fidesz party had its membership suspended in the center-right European People's Party, the largest political bloc in the EU parliament, because of concerns about Hungary's democracy, said Fidesz would want to stay in the EPP only if it can influence the group's future strategy.

Orban met recently with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, but has not committed to joining the more radically nationalist alliance that Salvini has been forming.

Fidesz is expected to win up to 14 of Hungary's 21 seats in the EU parliament.

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8:05 a.m.

Belgians are heading to the polls in European Union, national and regional elections Sunday.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. (0700GMT) and the first estimates and exit polls were expected by 6 p.m. (1700GMT). In the national elections Belgians are looking to end months of political limbo after the biggest party in the governing coalition quit over Prime Minister Charles Michel's support for the U.N. migration pact.

Michel has steered a caretaker government doing only day-to-day business since December, but with the country's 8 million voters choosing from more than a dozen parties, chances are that it will prove difficult to quickly form a stable coalition.

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6 a.m.

Bulgarians are voting in the European Parliament elections after a series of scandals overshadowed the debate on key issues of the EU's future.

Voters on Sunday are casting ballots for their country's 17 seats in the 751-member European Parliament. The vote is seen as a test for the center-right party of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, which suffered a setback after senior officials were involved in corruption scandals.

Latest surveys show only three parties, belonging to mainstream European political groups, passing the election threshold — the ruling GERB party, the Socialist party, and the liberal MRF.

Projections suggest the nationalist and far-right vote will be split between several smaller parties, which could prevent them from capturing seats in the EU legislature.

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