Europe wakes up to hostile new reality

The centre has held in Europe with the pro-EU parties taking most of the seats, says Europe Correspondent Ann Cahill.

EUROPE woke up to a new reality with a significant number of people willing to support politicians who are anti-semite, anti-foreigner, anti-any other nationality, anti-EU, and anti-euro.

The past six decades of building a united Europe has been momentarily stalled with a seventh of the seats going to avowed racist candidates.

Germany has returned a neo-Nazi, Denmark a convicted racist, France has handed a third of its seats to a group that wants to have France just for the French.

The British giving almost a third of their seats to the inward-looking anti-EU and racist Ukip has not been such a shock, as Britain has long been seen as semi-detached.

However, when the votes have been counted and the political groups weighed, the centre has held, with the four largest pro-EU parties taking more than two thirds of the seats, despite losing about 12% of their vote.

Already the work of who will take the reins at the Commission has begun, with the politicians strategising to win most support for their policies amid the candidates.

The established parties are better at this than the protest groups that tend to splinter and fall out because, apart from their anti-establishment views, they frequently disagree on the details.

For the EU, the next few weeks will be vital as the leaders of the main parties in the Parliament battle for supremacy — a fight that could weaken the Parliament in relation to the member states, rather than the other way around, which was the plan behind having lead candidates for Commission president.

The big question from the election will be for the member states where citizens reacted so violently as to put forward representatives that are so out of step with their governments and, with what are seen as European values of tolerance.

At EU level, national leaders will need to discuss rebalancing their strategy of austerity and pay more attention to creating decent paying jobs, leaving their electorate with less to complain about.

That will require someone to convince German Chancellor Angela Merkel to ease up on a policy for which she got full support from her voters. The question is, with France out of the picture, who will do this?

Austria (18): Two major conservative parties took half the votes with the centre-left taking 24%, followed by the Greens — turning the normally conservative county further to the right;

Belgium (21): Another swing to separatist parties, taking their MEPs out of the mainstream;

Bulgaria (17): Ruling Socialists came second to the opposition centre-right that got a third of votes. The Turkish minority party came third with 16% and a pro-media freedom party got 11%, but Transparency International talked about “serious breaches in the voting;

Croatia (11):Just in but already EU-weary, a eurosceptic nationalist MEP was re-elected while a seat went to an ecology group. The government Socialists lost one and conservative opposition kept their six;

Czech Republic (21): The amazing rise of a billionaire finance minister continues, moving the country away from being europhobe towards more pro-business;

Denmark (13): The far-right, eurosceptic, racist Danish People’s Party doubled its vote to 26% and took four seats. The main political parties, Liberals and Socialists, left with seven seats as each lost one, after a long campaign;

Estonia (6): The government party took a third of the seats and other seats were won by parties that warned about the danger posed by Russia;

Finland (13): The national coalition centre parties held their seats while the nationalist EU-sceptic Finns won less than expected but doubled to two seats. Foreign minister Alex Stubb and economics commissioner Olli Rehn were both elected;

France (74): Marine Le Pen’s Front National took a third of the seats, Sarkozy’s UMP, despite his anti-immigrant last-minute call, lost support but takes 20 seats, and president François Hollande’s Socialists finished a miserable third with 14% of the vote and 13 seats;

Germany (96): Merkel’s centre-right CDU took a third of the votes, down on 2009 election, while her coalition partners, the Socialists, increased their vote substantially to 27%. The anti-euro AfD took seven seats, with a neo-Nazi failing to take a seat;

Greece (21): It was a landslide for anti-austerity Syrzia and his young leader Alexi Tsipras, once anti-EU and euro, now firmly wanting to keep the currency but a change in the austerity policies. Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn won three seats, including the former director of EU military staff. The government centre-right party and socialists lost seats;

Hungary (21): The extreme right, racist, and anti-Semitic Jobbik party came second in Hungary, while the centre-right governing party, Fidesz, took half the votes and 12 seats. Prime minister Viktor Orban came out publicly against EPP candidate Juncker for Commission president;

Ireland (11): Labour disaster meant no MEP in the Socialists but a big win for European Left with at least three seats for Sinn Féin. Fine Gael retained its seats in the largest centre-right EPP;

Italy (73): The new prime minister’s socialists won in every region, beating comedian Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star movement into second with 20 seats and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia into third;

Latvia (8): The party that enforced perhaps the toughest austerity measures in the EU took half the seats in the election, one going to the former prime minister. the rest divided between the left, greens, farmers and Russian parties;

Lithuania (11): Left wing and liberal parties took most seats;

Luxembourg (6); Three of the seats went to the centre-left EPP candidates — of which former Luxembourg prime minister Juncker is a member;

Malta (6): The ruling labour party got half the votes — to the surprise of its prime minister who has cut the cost of electricity by 25% since taking office in March;

Netherlands (26): Eurosceptic and anti-Islamic Freedom party of Geert Wilders came second but with fewer votes than last time. The pro-EU D66 and Christian Democrats came first;

Poland (51): The opposition Law and Justice Party is back in Poland, winning close to a third of the votes and just pipping prime minister Donald Tusk’s centre-right party with 19 seats going to each. The right-wing eurosceptic party took four seats, while the pro-federalist EU party lost its seat;

Portugal (21): Opposition Socialists took most votes in the austerity-hit country but despite this the government parties were not far behind;

Romania (32): The government left coalition was the biggest winner, taking a third of seats, while the liberal party was down to 15% and 5 seats;

Slovakia (13): Maintained its tradition of having the lowest turnout at 13% and the ruling party won five seats, losing a seat. A plethora of far right, national and EU-sceptic parties gained a little with just 8% of votes between them;

Slovenia (8): Five seats went to centre-right parties, while the socialist and liberal party leaders resigned after disastrous results;

Spain (54): The Popular Party in government lost eight seats and the opposition socialists lost nine of its 23 seats, spurring its leader to resign. The new protest Podemos (We Can) party that wants rid of the king came fourth, while Catalan separatists got a boost;

Sweden (20): Centre-right government parties get only 13% as voters turn left, and elect the first-ever Feminist party member, and two eurosceptics;

United Kingdom (73): A third of the seats went to the UK Independence Party and its leader Nigel Farage, who has held his seat for past 15 years, advocating the UK leaves the EU. The Tories were beaten into third place behind the Labour party.

More in this section

Lunchtime News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up