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The weirdest things that happened on election night

by editor

Another EU election is over. It’s time to put away the champagne glasses/wipe away the tears/remind your friends and relatives that there actually was an election.

But before we turn our attention toward the formation of the next European Parliament and the race to secure the European Union’s top jobs, let’s look back at some of the odder moments from the big election night.

Emmanuel Macron calls an election

Hey! Look at me! No, I’m not in Brussels, I’m in Paris and I’m clearly not getting enough attention, so I’m going to dissolve parliament (it won’t actually be dissolved by having, er, acid poured all over it) and call a snap election. And I’m going to hold that election on either side of a British election just to annoy political journalists (are you sure about this? — ed).

EP gives out the wrong results

All eyes were on Parliament spokesperson Jaume Duch as he read out the latest projection of which political groups will dominate the next assembly. Alas, the numbers he had were different from those that appeared on the screen behind him. The newly updated projection showed that the EPP was on track for 186 seats. Or was it 189? Duch read out 186 but the screen behind him showed 189, and there were other discrepancies. A Financial Times reporter drew laughs by shouting out: “He’s behind you!”

Ex-Belgian prime minister rips up his ballot paper

Elio Di Rupo, a former Belgian prime minister and now lead EU candidate for the French-speaking Socialists, got his ballot papers mixed up while voting in his hometown of Mons. Belgians went to the polls for regional, federal and EU elections on Sunday.

Di Rupo left the polling booth to ask for a new ballot paper, saying he had put on the “wrong glasses, and there are a lot of candidates, so I made a mistake.” He tore up the paper so his vote would remain secret.

Meanwhile, Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s (soon to be former) prime minister, went for a beer in the pub ‘t Bierpotje in Brakel after voting. He’ll have needed a drink as his center-right party saw its vote share plummet in Sunday’s national election.

League’s League of Legends

Italy’s League had a bad night. The party of Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, had 22 MEPs and was the biggest national delegation in the ID group, but received just 8.6 percent of the vote this time. Also, eagle-eyed social media users noticed that while the TV cameras were rolling in League HQ, one staffer was playing a video game — making it the only League of Legends reference in connection with this election.

Musk-hugging YouTuber gets elected

Fidias Panayiotou, a 25-year-old YouTuber, was elected in Cyprus, becoming one of the country’s six MEPs. Panayiotou, the son of a Greek Orthodox priest, has lots of followers on TikTok and YouTube, and made his name by embarking on a mission to hug Elon Musk. He finally achieved his objective in 2023, after spending months waiting outside the HQ of X.

Doing Great things

Many Bulgarians were surprised to discover that a hitherto unknown party called “Greatness” (Velichie) was on the ballot paper. The party managed a tick over 4 percent of the vote and was on the ballot paper alongside another party with a, er, great name — There Are Such People.

Holy Meloni

A new mural has been drawn in Milan that depicts Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni as the Madonna, breastfeeding a baby and with her head surrounded by a halo reminiscent of the EU flag. Rumors that Ursula von der Leyen and Marine Le Pen were racing to Milan to worship at the mural were unconfirmed at the time of going to press.

Lola Boom, Christian Oliver, Carlo Martuscelli, Eddy Wax, Camille Gijs and Elena Giordano contributed to this article.

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