The centre right has come out on top in Europe after EU elections marked by a record low turnout and harsh lessons for ruling parties in some countries.
Partial results show the European People’s Party delivered a heavy blow to the Socialists and will remain the main group in parliament. The Conservatives have strengthened their ability to set the agenda in the Assembly that passes many of the European Union’s laws and its budget. The governing centre-right groups won in Germany, France, Poland and Italy, and Green parties did well on a bad night for the Socialists, who failed to cash in on widespread discontent with Europe’s handling of the global economic crisis. Turnout was set to be around 43 percent. Exit polls and early results showed ruling parties beaten or heading for defeat in some of the countries worst hit by the crisis; Britain, Ireland, Latvia, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria and Spain. The British National Party won its first two seats in the Parliament and other far-right groups appeared to have gained in the Netherlands, Romania and Hungary. But they didn’t make as big an impact as some political analysts had expected.