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Friday, December 9, 2016

Eurosceptic Parties Cause ‘Earthquake’ At EU Polls

Eurosceptic Parties Cause ‘Earthquake’ At EU Polls

Brussels (AFP) – France’s far-right National Front and Britain’s UKIP led a eurosceptic “earthquake” in EU parliamentary polls, sending shockwaves across Europe and beyond.

The EU Parliament’s own projections early on Monday showed the extent of the anti-EU breakthrough, with eurosceptic parties set to win around 140 seats in the 751-seat assembly.

The most emphatic results from the four days of polling across the 28-nation bloc, which ended Sunday, came on both sides of the British Channel.

In France the far-right National Front (FN) won just shy of 25 percent of the vote, according to official figures, securing 24 of France’s 74 seats on the EU parliament, with nearly all results in.

The anti-EU mood also swept Britain where the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) looked set to score a historic election victory.

Eurosceptic UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed “the most extraordinary result in British politics for 100 years” as his party secured over 27 percent of the vote with results from 10 of the 12 British regions declared.

“We have hit very hard,” he added, talking of a political “earthquake”.

The anti-EU Danish People’s Party was also victorious, while far-right groups had strong showings in Hungary and Greece.

In Austria the right-wing Freedom Party also made big gains, coming in third with 20 percent of the vote.

Projections for the European Parliament as a whole showed the centre-right umbrella group, the European People’s Party, holding on to its top spot with 212 seats, though it looks to have lost 62 in the process.

The Socialists were second with 186 seats, down from 196. The ALDE Liberals group would be third with 70 seats, ahead of the Greens at 55 and the left GUE/NGL with 45.

If confirmed, the FN victory in France would be the highest ever national vote garnered by the anti-immigration, anti-EU party led by Marine Le Pen who has promised to shake up the country and the EU.

It easily beat the centre-right UMP on 20.8 percent of the vote, and humbled President Francois Hollande’s Socialists, which came a distant third with under 14 percent.

The French people “no longer want to be ruled from outside, to have to submit to laws they did not vote for or to obey (EU officials) who are not subject to the legitimacy of universal suffrage,” Le Pen said.

There was better news for the pro-EU camp in Germany where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party won around 36 percent of the vote, while its coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats, scored some 27 percent.

But even in the EU’s most powerful member state, the nay-sayers were not totally denied, with the anti-euro Alternative for Germany taking 6.8 percent of the vote, putting it above the threshold for seats just a year after the party was formed.

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