EU's eastern members see strong performances by centrist parties

European Parliament elections in Poland

By Barbara Erling and Gergely Szakacs

WARSAW (Reuters) - Pro-European centrist parties performed well overall in central and eastern Europe during the European Parliament elections on Sunday, partial results and exit polls showed, bucking the trend elsewhere on the continent where the far-right surged.

In Poland, the European Union's largest eastern member, Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centrist Civic Coalition (KO) was set to win Sunday's European vote, an exit poll showed, taking a step towards establishing itself as the dominant force in the country after a campaign dominated by security concerns.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's nationalist Fidesz party came first but posted its worst result in a national or EU election in nearly two decades, as support surged for the pro-European Tisza party, which is led by political newcomer Peter Magyar.

"We have shown that our choices, our efforts, have a much broader dimension than just our national issues ... we have shown that we are a beacon of hope for Europe," Tusk told supporters after the exit poll results were announced.

"Those in power in Germany have no reason to be happy, and those in France have reason for dramatic sadness," Tusk said, adding: "Out of the large countries, Poland has shown that democracy triumphs here".


With war raging in Ukraine and a migrant crisis on the Belarus border, Tusk framed the vote in Poland as a choice between a safe future in a country at the heart of the EU or a more perilous one if the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, known for its conflicts with Brussels, won.

According to the IPSOS exit poll, KO won 38.2% of votes, ahead of PiS, which had 33.9%, in a result that would mark the end of a decade-long run of first-place election finishes for PiS.

In Hungary, partial results showed Fidesz at 43.8% of votes and Magyar's Tisza with 31%.

Magyar entered Hungarian politics earlier this year, promising to root out corruption and revive democratic checks and balances which critics say have been eroded under Orban.

In Romania, the ruling coalition of leftist Social Democrats (PSD) and centre-right Liberals (PNL) won 54% of votes in the European Parliament election in which they ran on joint lists, an exit poll showed.

Exit polls had AUR, a far-right group that was founded five years ago and which opposes migration and military aid for Ukraine, ranked second in European polls, with 14% of votes.

Progressive Slovakia, a liberal, pro-Western opposition party in Slovakia, beat the SMER-SD, the largest party in the leftist-nationalist government led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, who survived an assassination attempt last month.

In the Czech Republic, the populist opposition ANO beat the centre-right Spolu group, which leads the government.

(Reporting by Barbara Erling, Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Karol Badohal in Warsaw, Luiza Ilie in Bucharest, Gergely Szakacs and Anita Komuves in Budapest, and Jan Lopatka in Prague; Writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Peter Graff, Alexander Smith and Paul Simao)