Connect to share and comment
Center-right parties hold on in European Parliament elections while extremist parties make gains.
Scandinavia showed support for maverick parties. In Finland, the top vote-getter in the entire election was an anti-EU campaigner, Timo Soini, head of a new eurosceptic party called the “True Finns,” while the largest three political parties each lost a seat. Neighboring Sweden is sending a pirate to Brussels. The Pirate Party, dedicated to Internet freedom, won 7.1 percent of the vote and will definitely have one seat, possibly even two when the dust clears.
But the loudest upstart of all, the Libertas party led by Irishman Declan Ganley, saw a very disappointing finish for its 531 candidates across 14 states. Not only did Ganley fail to win a seat (though he has demanded a recount), but the only seat Libertas and its affiliates are likely to win is one in France. Ganley had boasted of bringing in 100 MEPs to change the way Brussels does business.
Nonetheless, the latest count shows there are 93 other unaligned MEPs who are likely to do that. Most of these are eurosceptics and if they band together, they outnumber both the No. 3 pro-EU Liberals and the No. 4 Greens, whose members are not united on support for the Lisbon reform treaty, though generally are not anti-union.
EPP Chairman Joseph Daul confirmed he plans to nominate current European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for a second term, a privilege EPP earns as the largest party in the EP. While many Socialists have indicated in the past they are willing to support the conservative Barroso for the post, Watson said the Liberals “will have to be convinced” that Barroso’s platform is good enough, despite the lack of any other candidate at this point.
Nothing is likely to happen on naming a new commission, however, until after Ireland takes a new vote on the Lisbon treaty, expected in October. Ganley, who led opposition to the treaty in the first poll, has said he will not play a role in the second vote if he doesn’t win an EP seat, which now looks to be the case. Recent polls show the treaty likely to pass an Irish vote, this time irrelevant of Ganley's political fate, which could lead to final approval by the Czech and Polish governments which are also holding up its implementation pending the Irish result.
Watson, who is resigning as group chair to run for president of the new parliament, wasted no time in using the low turnout figures to promote his ideas about how to interest more people in voting next time. He advocates making an existing European news channel, Euronews, an official public broadcaster entrusted with bringing more information on EU institutions to the public as well as choosing the raft of European commissioners from the EP. Watson says that way voters would feel like they have more direct influence and therefore be more motivated to cast a ballot.
See here for a roundup of the results from GlobalPost's correspondents across the EU.
Read more about the elections: