Sunday, June 7, 2009

Europe Leans Right as Voters Choose EU Parliament

Just three days ago we saw the right leaning Freedom Party of Geert Wilders finish a strong second in the Dutch elections. This is being followed up with exit polls showing that conservative parties are leading or tied in major countries across Europe. Hopefully this trend will follow, but what is disturbing is that a record low turnout is expected. Get of off your asses and at least try to save Europe as we know it.

Europe leans right as voters choose EU Parliament

BRUSSELS – Europe leaned to the right Sunday as tens of millions of people voted in European Parliament elections, with conservative parties leading or favored in many countries amid a global economic crisis.

Opinion surveys and exit polls showed right-leaning governments edging the opposition in Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and elsewhere. Conservative opposition parties were tied or ahead in Britain, Spain and some smaller countries.

Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and five other EU nations cast ballots in the last three days, while the rest of the 27-nation bloc voted Sunday. Results for most countries were expected later in the day.

The EU parliament has evolved over five decades from a consultative legislature to one with the power to vote on or amend two-thirds of all EU laws.

But the Europe-wide elections were most important as a snapshot of national political sentiment. High unemployment across Europe has increased voter dissatisfaction with mainstream parties and made residents skeptical over the EU's power to help spur economic recovery.

Exit polls showed gains for far-right groups and other fringe parties amid predictions of record low turnout.

In Germany, the conservatives of German Chancellor Angela Merkel were headed for a center-right majority and her center-left rivals faced a crushing defeat, exit polls showed, less than four months before a national vote.

With most votes counted in Austria, the main rightist party gained strongly while the Social Democrats, the main party in the governing coalition, lost substantial ground.

But the big winner in Austria was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform, with posters proclaiming "The Occident in Christian hands."

In the Netherlands, exit polls predicted Geert Wilders' anti-Islamic party would win more than 15 percent of the country's votes, bruising a ruling alliance of Conservatives and Socialists.

Exit polls in Bulgaria showed the governing Socialist-led coalition facing defeat and the country's right-wing opposition party winning most of the votes.

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