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Europeans lean right in parliamentary elections

With results in from all of the 27 European Union member states but the U.K., the 736-member European Parliament has seen some slight shifts in its make-up. You can see the exact breakdown on the Parliament's website.

Perhaps as remarkable as the gains made by some of the fringe parties are the massive losses by the Social Democratic and Liberal blocs despite a large degree of public disapproval with the way the ruling parties have handled the economic crisis.

It was expected that center-right parties, grouped under the European People's Party/European Democrats (EPP/ED) heading in the EP, would hold on to their overall majorities, and so they have, making a modest gain in seats to hold approximately 228 spots despite losses in the constituent parties in some member states. The EPP/ED is calling it a victory — in fact, I just got an invitation to a post-midnight "celebratory cake cutting" — and what it does ensure is that the anti-EU elements cannot force their will on the legislature. "I can only express satisfaction," said party head Joseph Daul at a late-night press conference featuring the chairs of the EP political groups.

But the Socialist group has lost possibly 15 seats in what group leader Martin Schulz said has been a "pretty bitter evening for us...we really had expected and hoped for a better result". Schulz said national party leaders would need to "take a very close look" at what happened in those countries where Socialists saw "bad defeats", mentioning Germany, the UK and France specifically.

The center-right parties of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both held onto their majorities. And despite Silvio Berlusconi's personal problems, his Freedom People's Party took somewhere around 40 percent of the Italian vote.

The Czech Republic was an exception to this, with socialists picking up five seats.

As expected, with less than half the eligible 375 million people taking part, extremist parties were able to achieve disproportionate support. Non-aligned members picked up at least 18 seats, many of those going to these far-right elements. Besides the Jobbik result I mentioned earlier in Hungary, the Netherlands' Geert Wilders — an anti-EU campaigner who is better known for being anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim — saw his party gain four seats, the second highest in the country. Austria's far-right will be getting at least one seat.

British results are starting to come in...

The U.K. Independence Party, which wants the country to withdraw from the EU, has won a seat, giving it a total of four delegates. UKIP had bragged it would beat Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party and it has, as Labour looks to lose at least two seats. And, despite heavy campaigning by the government against it, the British National Party, which campaigned for Britain to be an "all-white" country, has picked up at least one seat as well, its first ever.

It will be later Monday before results are final.

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/europe/090607/leaning-right