Eurosceptic and far-right parties have seized ground in elections to the European Parliament, in what France’s PM called a “political earthquake”, BBC News reports.
The French National Front and UK Independence Party both performed strongly, while the three big centrist blocs in parliament all lost seats.
The outcome means a greater say for those who want to cut back the EU’s powers, or abolish it completely.
But EU supporters will be pleased that election turnout was slightly higher.
It was 43.1%, according to provisional European Parliament figures. That would be the first time turnout had not fallen since the previous election – but would only be an improvement of 0.1%.
-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 Labor 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%
“The people have spoken loud and clear,” a triumphant Marine Le Pen told cheering supporters at National Front (FN) party headquarters in Paris. “They no longer want to be led by those outside our borders, by EU commissioners and technocrats who are unelected. They want to be protected from globalisation and take back the reins of their destiny.”
Provisional results suggested the FN could win 25 European Parliament seats – a stunning increase on its three in 2009. The party also issued an extraordinary statement accusing the government of vote-rigging, the BBC says.
Across the board, the center-right European People’s Party was set to win 212 out of the 751 seats, with 28.23% across the bloc, according to estimated results issued by the European Parliament. That would make it the biggest group – but with more than 60 seats fewer than before.
That put it ahead of the Socialist group with 186 seats (24.77%), Liberals with 70 (9.32%) and Greens 55 (7.32%).
EPP leader Jean-Claude Juncker insisted the majority of people had voted to be a part of Europe.
“The extreme right, contrary to what some of the media has said, did not win this election,” he said. “We will have a clear pro-European majority in this house,” added the man who is the frontrunner to be the next president of the European Commission.
The Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, incorporating the UK Independence Party (UKIP), appeared to have about the same number of seats as last time.
But the number of non-attached right-wing MEPs is set to rise, boosting the Eurosceptic camp.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, commenting on his party’s success in Britain, said: “The inevitability of European integration ends tonight.”
The anti-bailout hard-left group in parliament was set to make big gains, largely thanks to Syriza in Greece and United Left in Spain, gaining about 12 seats, according to the BBC.
Martin Schulz, the former Socialist president of the European Parliament – said of the FN victory: “It’s a bad day for the European Union, when a party with a racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic program gets 25% of the vote.”
The election is the biggest exercise in multi-national democracy in the world. The vote will affect the lives of the EU’s 500 million citizens.
The parliament’s powers have expanded since the last election in 2009, and it is hoping to have a decisive say in who gets the EU’s top job, president of the European Commission.