European voters punish the left

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Optionpro007, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. European voters punish the left
    Spanish opposition Popular Party leaders celebrate victory
    Spain's centre-right Popular Party was one of the night's big winners

    Centre-right parties have done well in elections to the European Parliament at the expense of the left.

    Far-right and anti-immigrant parties also made gains, as turnout figures plunged to between 43 and 44%.

    The UK Labour Party, Germany's Social Democrats and France's Socialist Party were heading for historic defeats.

    Correspondents say the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) looks set to continue to hold power in the parliament.

    Jose Manuel Barroso, who seems set for a second term as European Commission president following the centre-right success, thanked voters and assured them their voices would be heard.

    "Overall, the results are an undeniable victory for those parties and candidates that support the European project and want to see the European Union delivering policy responses to their everyday concerns," he said.

    Socialist leader Martin Schulz said his group's defeat would be analysed.

    "It's a sad evening for social democracy in Europe. We are particularly disappointed, [it is] a bitter evening for us," he said.

    Vice-president of the European Commission Margot Wallstrom said the low turnout was a "bad result".

    Government defeats

    Fringe groups appear to have benefited, with far-right and anti-immigrant parties picking up seats in the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Slovakia and Hungary. The British National Party won two seats - its first ever in a nationwide election.

    Jobbik party celebrates
    Hungary's Jobbik party was one of several far-right groups to do well

    Several governments battling the economic downturn look set for a heavy defeat, says the BBC's Oana Lungescu in Brussels.

    However, governing parties in France and Germany appear to have done relatively well despite the crisis. In partial results so far:

    * 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. The Social Democrats, Ms Merkel's partners in the grand coalition, saw their worst election showing since World War II
    * In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition is ahead of the socialist opposition, with 36% of the vote
    * In the UK, the governing Labour Party is expecting a serious defeat, gaining its lower share of the vote for a century
    * Spain's governing Socialists were slightly behind the opposition Popular Party, according to partial results
    * Poland's governing centre-right Civic Platform has gained ground at the expense of the Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party
    * Early results show Portugal's ruling Socialists dropped a massive 18 percentage points, losing out mainly to Greens and far-left parties

    Voters have been choosing representatives mainly from their own national parties, many of which then join EU-wide groupings with similarly-minded parties from other countries.

    The largest grouping has for the last five years been the centre-right EPP (288 seats out of a current 785), followed by the centre-left PES (216) and the liberal ALDE (100).

    Provisional figures released by the EU suggested turnout was at an all-time low in some countries, including France (40.5%) and Germany (42.2%).

    In Malta, on the other hand, it was expected to near 80%, and in Brussels, there were long queues outside a polling station on the Grand Place on Sunday.

    Turnout has fallen at each European election in the last 30 years, from nearly 62% in 1979 to 45.47% in 2004.