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Political situation in the EU

Europe veers right to beat recession

Political situation in the EU, satisfied 19%

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It may be difficult to say who "won" the European elections, but it is clear who lost. From France to Poland – and spectacularly in Britain – politicians of the moderate left were shunned or humiliated by the few voters who bothered to cast their ballots. 

In a time of recession – and especially one caused by the exuberance and immoderate greed of markets – centre-left arguments might have been expected to thrive. Instead, centre-left parties of government were routed in Britain and soundly defeated in Portugal and narrowly beaten in Spain. Centre-left opposition parties were rejected in Italy and Poland and crushed in France. In Germany, where the main centre-right and centre-left parties share power, voters rejected the Social Democrats and gave a comfortable victory to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. 

The principal exceptions to the rout of the moderate left were the good results for social democratic parties in Denmark, Sweden, Greece and Slovakia.

Elsewhere, some of the votes that might normally have gone to moderate left-wing parties migrated to the extremes of left and right. But, despite predictions of a Euro-festival of the far out, it was a mixed election for nationalists and populists. Extreme and racist parties did well in Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands and Austria, but the once powerful National Front lost half its seats in France and the most xenophobic Flemish nationalist party had its worst election in decades in Belgium.

Early analysis of the miserly turnout – just over 43 per cent across the EU – suggests centre-left parties have one possible alibi. It was the working and lower middle classes who most shunned the polling booths. So . he elections were hopelessly skewed towards the comfortable and the well-off.

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By John Lichfield and Vanessa Mock

See Independent


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