Thousands demonstrate in Europe ahead of European Parliamentary elections

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By Louise Miner  & Michael Daventry
Thousands demonstrate in Europe ahead of European Parliamentary elections
Copyright  Lutz Faupel

With just a week to go before the European parliamentary elections take place, tens of thousands of people, opposed to nationalist agendas, took to the streets in cities right across Europe.

Protestors took part in the UK, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Bulgaria as well as in Berlin where thousands raised their concerns about far-right parties.

Political scientist Hajo Funke, who demonstrated in Berlin, said, "It already shows that the cards are being reshuffled, and this time against the extreme nationalists and right-wing extremists like the FPO, and the AfD, who want to join the FPO in the European Parliament, to form a political group. And together with Italy's far-right League party leader Matteo Salvini, things will be reshuffled now."

There were rallies in seven major cities in Germany, not just Berlin.

People in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne, and Leipzig as well as Frankfurt, took part to show their support for Europe.

The German marches were held under the banner of "One Europe for Everyone: Your Voice against Nationalism".

Organisers say more than a hundred civil society organisations and political parties gave their support.

Frankfurt Protestor Roxana Meifner said that "it is alarming how many right-wing parties are active not only in Germany but throughout Europe, and we must learn from history. So, it's our responsibility to go to the polls and stand against the right, and demonstrate."

They're concerned that far-right parties and eurosceptics could score major wins in the upcoming elections and urge people to vote.

Whilst organisers show their support for the EU, they're also calling for changes to the bloc.

Meanwhile, Milan was the venue this weekend for a cross-European rally of nationalist parties before the European Parliament election.

Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister and leader of the League party, was on the centre stage. With 11 other countries represented, it was a show of strength for Europe's far-right — a title Salvini opposes,

Salvini said, "Here, there is no far right. Here, there is the politics of common sense. The extremists are those who have been ruling Europe for 20 years in the name of precarity and poverty. On May 26th we go and take Europe. We go and change this Europe".

Thousands of supporters gathered in the rain of the central Milan square to hear Salvini speak. He believes his new alliance will win a record number of seats in the election, which takes place between next Thursday and Sunday.

Hungary's Viktor Orban did not attend, but France's Marine Le Pen spoke in Italian and said, "So, dear friends, our duty now it's to write Europe's future. Together"

She added, "On May 26th, we will bring this revolution of common sense in all Europe"

But there was a loud counter-demonstration by opponents in the same square. "Fascists leave Milan" was their chant.

But a quieter tone was struck by some. Banners were hung outside homes by residents who oppose Salvini's message.

Stefano Simonetta, a local resident said, "Well, I decided to expose this banner because the moment arrived to show our faces, and also the facades of our houses where we live, in order to say that enough is enough. Because the policies of this minister and the government forces do not represent us, and it's important there are more dissenting voices every day".