It has been a night of seismic shocks for Europe as the election counts came in from all over the EU. One minor tremor that surprised many was that voter turnout was up by 0.1% defying projections of continued voter apathy.
But, the exit polls indicated that eurosceptics were scooping up the majority of the votes in some of the biggest member states, yet the head of the largest pro-European party in parliament (EPP), still saw it as a reason for celebration.
“I would like to tell you.. We’ve stopped the trend of lowering turnout. This was one of our main goals, in terms of democracy. Obviously, it’s not perfect, sure, we’re not satisfied, but at least it’s the first time we’ve stopped the tide of absenteeism,” said Joseph Daul speaking at the parliament in Brussels.
In France the far-right National Front swept away the two mainstream parties with 25% of the vote, standing on a platform against the EU, the euro, and immigration, whipping up feelings of nationalism in her rhetoric.
“Our people demand a single politics, the politics of French people for French people, with French people,” declared Marine Le Pen, continuing, “They no longer want to be directed externally, be submitted to laws they have not voted for, nor obey Commissioners who are not subjected to the legitimacy of universal suffrage”.
The question remains whether the eurosceptic politicians will be able to form a Euro Tea Party group which could disrupt the Brussels’ assembly, but impact may be felt closer to home.
“We’re going to get a good number of eurosceptics elected to the European parliament. Whether that makes big difference in European politics, remains to be seen,” explained Nigel Farage leader of the UK Independence party. “But it’s going to make a very big difference in domestic politics… Up until now European integration, whether one liked it or not, always seemed to be inevitable. Well, this inevitability will end with these results tonight,” he added.
Another anti-EU party swept the board in Greece. Alexis Tsipras Syriza party’s took 26% of the vote. Elsewhere eurosceptics in Denmark also clinched victory, sounding a wake up call for pro-Europeans when the dust settles on election night.