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The battle for Europe

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The battle for Europe
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Europeans are going to the polls and it all started in Britain on Thursday - ironically in the country that didn't want anything to do with it.

Yet the European elections in the UK were overshadowed, once again, by the Brexit drama and the unfolding government crisis.

Theresa May's final Brexit gambit backfired, triggering a revolt by her own Conservative Party.

The Tories will now need to pay the piper: in the European elections, they could be thrashed by Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

For the rest of Europe, Brexit has consequences as well.

And this is what makes these European elections so special.

Voter Turnout

Over the last few weeks, there was a lot of hype about these European elections.

They were called “the most important ever”, as they would change life as we know it for generations to come.

If this were true, we would need to see a mega-rush toward the ballot boxes.

Yet the reality looks quite different.

Over the decades voter participation has gone down steadily and reached only meager numbers.

But it's more complicated than that – as Europe usually is.

One way some politicians described the European elections is as a titanic fight between a liberal Europe against a nationalist Europe.

Far-right forces were emboldened by their strong results in recent national elections.

In Austria, the mainstream Christian Democrats, for the first time, even formed a coalition with the nationalist FPÖ party.

This was largely seen as a litmus test for the nationalists: are they actually able to govern?

After this week the answer is a clear no.

Next week

On Monday, the Austrian parliament in Vienna decides on a no-confidence motion to oust Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

With the FPO lined up against him, the opposition Social Democrats will ultimately decide Kurzß fate.

On Tuesday, the heads of state and government of the EU come together in Brussels for a dinner summit.

They want to discuss the outcome of the European elections.

And on Friday, Pope Francis starts a three-day visit to Romania trying to improve intense relations with the Orthodox church in that country.

Last Word

This time the Last Word goes to Austrian pop icon Conchita Wurst, the winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.

Conchita had a special message to fans and citizens alike:

The European Elections will take place from the 23rd to the 26th of May and I would recommend to vote because we are influencing the direction we are taking for the future of the European Union. I think these will be the most important elections in our lifetime. So go and vote!