Far-right and Euroskeptic parties made sweeping gains in European Parliament elections Sunday – triggering what one prime minister called a political “earthquake” by those who want to slash the powers of the European Union or abolish it altogether.
The majority of almost 388m eligible voters across 21 of the 28 member states, including Germany, France and Spain, cast their ballots on Sunday at polling stations across the EU.
The other seven countries, including the UK and the Netherlands, in the bloc had already voted.
The European Parliament\’s own projections early on Monday showed the extent of the anti-EU breakthrough, with those parties set to win around 140 seats in the 751-seat assembly.
The European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-right umbrella party in the parliament, is expected to win 212, while European Socialists (PES) are predicted to secure 186 seats.
One of the most significant winners was France\’s National Front party, which, according to preliminary results, was the outright victory in France with almost 25 percent support.
The anti-immigration and anti-EU National Front, which currently holds three seats, won 24 of France\’s 74 seats in the European Parliament.
Marine Le Pen, the National Front\’s leader, said: "The people have spoken loud and clear. They no longer want to be led by those outside our borders, by EU commissioners and technocrats who are unelected."
Manuel Valls, France\’s Socialist prime minister, described the election results as " an earthquake", and called for a European response.
"Europe has disappointed," Valls said. "Europe needs to give hope again. We need a Europe that is stronger, with more solidarity, more fairness."
He was brought in by President Francois Hollande barely two months ago after the Socialist Party suffered a similar rout in local elections.
France\’s National Front was not the only party benefiting from widespread disillusionment with the EU.
Nigel Farage, leader of the fiercely anti-EU UK Independence Party, praised what he called "the most extraordinary result in British politics for 100 years".
With 56 out of 73 seats declared, the UKIP, which wants to pull Britain out of the EU, had won 28.6 percent of the vote and 23 members, ahead of both the Conservatives and Labour, while the Liberal Democrats had won just one seat.
"I don\’t just want Britain to leave the European Union," Farage said. "I want Europe to leave the European Union."
The anti-immigration and anti-EU Danish People\’s Party won its country\’s elections, snaring 26.7 percent of the vote and four of Denmark\’s 13 seats.
Greece\’s left-wing opposition Syriza Party succeeded in capturing 26.6 percent of the Greek vote on its anti-austerity platform.
The country\’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party was third in the count with 9.4 percent.
In Austria the right-wing Freedom Party also made big gains, coming in third with 20 percent of the vote.
The anti-immigration party in the Netherlands, Gurt Wilders\’ Freedom Party, however, was a surprise failure, winning just 12.2 percent of the vote and just three seats, compared with 17 percent in 2009.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel\’s conservatives claimed victory with 35.3 percent of the vote, despite strong gains for the centre-left Social Democrats.
A new anti-EU party, the Alternative for Germany, made its debut into the parliament, polling seven percent.
France National Front storm to victory – 25%, 25 seats; Centre-right UMP 21%; President Hollande\’s Socialists a poor third with 14% – lowest ever EP score
Britain Eurosceptic UKIP in first place, with 27%, Conservatives on 24% and Labour about 25%, Greens beating Lib Dems
Italy Centre-left PM Matteo Renzi scores strong 40%, fending off ex-comic Beppe Grillo\’s anti-establishment Five Star with 22%, and ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi\’s Forza Italia with 16%
Germany Angela Merkel wins another election – 35% for her Christian Union, 27% for the centre-left SPD. Eurosceptic AfD score strong 7%
Greece Partial results show far-left Syriza on 26%, PM Antonis Samaras\’ New Democracy on 23%. Far-right Golden Dawn set to get three MEPs, with 9%