The European Union’s parliament is about to undergo a dramatic transition as the latest round of elections wrapped up today, giving Euroskeptic parties with major anti-Euro stances a strong representation across several countries.
The most stark victories were in Britain and France, where parties usually dismissed as “fringe groups” won major victories at the expensive of the usual mainstream parties.
Britain saw the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) winning a dominant 28% of the vote on a platform of withdrawing from the EU and negotiating a free trade agreement across the Commonwealth of Nations as an alternative. UKIP had been growing in previous national elections, but this year’s election was their first ever victory in a national vote. The Liberal Democrats, by contrast, lost almost all their seats.
France was an even bigger surprise, as Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National (FN) came out of nowhere to win 25% of the vote and the largest number of seats, knocking the ruling Socialist Party down to a distant third place finish. FN’s main EU parliament issue is to withdraw France from the Eurozone and reestablish the franc as the nation’s currency.
Even Germany, normally hugely pro-EU, saw big gains for the brand new Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party, an anti-Euro party which split off from the Free Democrats as a Euroskeptic party. They didn’t win, but their fourth place finish saw them as the largest of eight new EU parliament parties from the nation.
Italy saw comedian Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement taking second place as well, as a brand new party. Though not overtly anti-EU, the party has called for a referendum on Italian withdrawal from the Eurozone.
Other nations seeing strong showings for skeptic parties include the Czech Republic, where ANO 2011 won four seats on a platform of stalling economic integration, and Poland, whose Kongres Nowa Prawica (new right) won 7.2% and four seats on an explicitly anti-Euro position.