Populists disappoint in European elections

Populists disappoint in European elections

Europe’s major centre-left and centre-right parties have lost their grip on the European Parliament with liberal, environmentalist and far-right parties prospering. 

As Denmark prepares for a general election on June 5, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who leads Denmark’s centre-right Liberal Party, is the surprise winner in the European election. 

The Social Democrats came second with the anti-migrant Danish People’s Party suffering badly, seeing its vote slump by more than half.

Newspaper Berlingske said the surprise result “has brought renewed excitement into the parliamentary election”, which was due to see the People’s Party prosper.

The Liberal Party received 23.5 per cent of the vote, up from 16.7 per cent in 2014, and the main opposition Social Democrats secured 21.5 per cent support. The populist People’s Party slumped to 10.7 per cent from 26.6 per cent.

Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini and French far-right Marine Le Pen are now among the biggest single parties, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the UK becoming the largest single party with 29 MEPs. 

It should be noted that the pro-remain vote in the UK was larger than that backing pro-leave parties, when Change UK, the resurgent Liberal Democrats and Greens in England are added with Scottish and Welsh nationalist votes. 

Northern Ireland, which voted remain in the divisive 2016 EU referendum, is yet to announce its results. 

Salvini’s Lega claimed nearly 34 per cent of the vote, according to early voting, a rise of around 6 per cent from the 2014 elections.

But the overall numbers of MEPs from populist parties are quite low. 

Green parties in Germany, France, the UK and in other member states came fourth, forming a 70-seat bloc, up 18 from 2014.

The German Greens came second with over 20 per cent of the vote, as the far-right AfD failed to make a serious impact.

Turnout was at a 20-year-high across the 28 member states but still only at around 51 per cent. 

Le Pen’s anti-migrant National Rally in France won 24-per-cent support, while her bitter rival, President Emmanuel Macron’s party secured 21 of the vote.

Italy’s disgraced former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, becomes an MEP at 82, despite his “bunga bunga” scandal and a tax fraud conviction that forced him out of Italy’s senate in 2013.

 

The populists have failed to upset the balance of power in the European Parliament. Picture credit: Eurasia Times  

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