Super Sunday: Europe Votes To Elect New European Parliament
Europe voted for extremist parties across member states in a historic four-day long Parliament election with record low turnout.
On Sunday, voters in the nineteen out of twenty-seven member states of the European Union head out to the polling stations on the final day of the 2009 European Parliament Elections. These elections made history as the biggest trans-national elections involving some 500 million eligible voters to be represented by the 736-member European Parliament.
However, the interest toward this election among eligible electorate was quite low. The overall turnout was last estimated to be on par with the 2004 election turnout (~46%) at 43.49%. Among those who did vote starting on June 4, extremist far-left and far-right political parties found the greatest support. Analysts believe that the fringe parties gained popularity among voters due to people’s accumulated frustration with the ongoing economic upheaval across Europe.
Such, election results in Netherlands shocked many in Europe. Dutch far-right and anti-Islamic Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom came second, winning four seats in the European Parliament. Capitalizing on voters’ discontent with immigrant workers in the times of heavy unemployment across Europe was key to the success of extremist parties, like Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom.
In Hungary, the anti-Gypsy, anti-Jewish party - The Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) - has seized the lead.
Meanwhile, Britain is holding its local elections alongside the European elections. And, the current PM Gordon Brown is feeling the mounting pressure to resign, as more of his ministers quit. Brown’s ruling Labour Party is expected to come in fourth in the European elections, which will only aggravate the political situation inside the country. As was last reported, even Britain succumbed to far-right party pressure: the far-right British National Party that is anti-immigration won a seat in the European Parliament.
Watch NP for updates about the election results.
Previous coverage by NP members here.
Those heading to the polls on Sunday include voters in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Governments across the continent now fear that pressing financial concerns, coupled with low voter turnout, will mean gains for the far right and left in the EU's 736-member assembly. Nationalist parties, capitalising on anti-immigration platforms amid rising unemployment, could be poised to benefit from the electoral discontent. Already Geert Wilders' Dutch Freedom Party, which campaigned on an Islamophobic, anti-immigrant platform, finished in second place, taking 17 per cent of the vote, and Heinz-Christian Strache's far-right Austrian Freedom Party (pictured) is also set to make large gains.
Opinion polls suggest that Jobbik will successfully march to the European Parliament, in close cooperation with its paramilitary 'Hungarian Guard', or Magyar Gárda, in the Hungarian language.
Magyar Gárda recruits have marched through Roma villages and settlements, helping to create an atmosphere of hatred at a time when people search for scapegoats for Hungary's deepest recession in decades.
Jobbik has signed an agreement with a radical group within Hungary's police force, 'The Trade Union of Hungarian Police Prepared for Action' (TMRSZ), which has anti-Jewish and anti-Roma views in publications.
Trouble also lay ahead for Mr Brown as Labour prepared to receive a mauling in the 'Super Sunday' European elections - possibly being pushed into fourth place behind the UK Independence Party.
RULING PARTIES IN FRANCE, GERMANY, AND ITALY REMAIN IN POWER--
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP trounced socialist opponents, while greens from the Europe-Ecologie party also made gains German Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing centre-right grouping lost ground but finished ahead of its rivals In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition is ahead of the socialist opposition, with between 39% and 43% of the vote, exit polls suggested
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