Extreme-Right Parties Gain Extensive Ground in EU
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The results from local and European parliamentary elections across Europe have dealt a heavy blow to the ruling parties, as voters used the opportunity to sweep extreme right parties into power.
Anti-European Union sentiment has been growing across the Continent since the debt crisis hit in 2008. This weekend's elections in 28 countries saw unprecedented gains for far-right anti-immigration and anti-EU political parties that caught the wave of voter disillusionment and rode it into local and European parliamentary positions.
In the U.K., the United Kingdom Independence Party, which preaches a strong anti-European and anti-immigration line, came out on top, with 27.49% of the vote, making these the first elections in the country's modern history in which neither the center-left Labor Party nor the center-right Conservative Party won a national election. The Conservatives currently run a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, whose European parliamentary presence was decimated from 11 seats to just one.
In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front Party won 25% of the vote. The ruling socialist President Francois Hollande managed just 14%. The party's win, with its rallying cry of "France for the French," shocked most observers. Le Pen said that France had "shouted loud and clear" that it wanted to be run "by the French, for the French and with the French" and not by "foreign commissioners" in Brussels.Despite this, European markets remained more or less stable as the results were confirmed. On Monday, European stocks on the Stoxx 600 showed their biggest rise since 2008, as Italian banks soared after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won overall in the country's European parliamentary elections, beating a populist challenger.
In Greece, yields on the country's 10-year bond fell 26 basis points to close at 6.23%. Most alarming to analysts on the ground was that Greece's neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn secured three European parliamentary seats. It gained nearly 10% of the popular vote, up from 6.92% in the 2012 elections. The party also gained the most voter inflows from other parties, at 77.5%. Golden Dawn's leaders are currently in jail, facing charges of running a criminal organization. Despite this and the part's reputation for extreme violence toward minority groups, its popularity has continued to grow among Greeks who have had enough of the current austerity measures directed at their country by the EU. The party that won Greece's overall election was Alexis Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party, which immediately called for general elections. In a triumphant speech to his followers, Tsipras said, "Already Europe is talking about the defeat of the agenda of the European leaders who chose this country as a guinea pig." While Syriza also spouts anti-euro and anti-austerity rhetoric, it bucked the trend across Europe by being one of the few left-leaning parties to come out on top in these elections. All eyes are now on the influence that these fringe groups will have on European policymaking and the alliances that may be formed. The fact that the European Parliament now has a substantial number of Euroskeptics in its seats will send a strong message to Europe's political elite about their handling of the debt crisis.
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