Brazen Brussels Bureaucrats Battered By Populist Storms In Europe

It was a fun night for the Eurosceptics.

  • Nigel Farage’s UKIP was the top vote getter in the UK with about 29% of the vote
  • Marine Le Pen’s Front National party was the top vote getter in France with 26% of the vote
  • The Danish People’s party is the largest party in Denmark with about 25% of the vote
  • Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement is a likely second-place finisher in Italy
  • Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza part is the top vote getter in Greece with about 26% of the vote

Eurosceptic Earthquake

The Financial Times reports Ukip Leads Populist Earthquake.

The UK Independence party and France’s far-right Front National stormed to victory in European elections on Sunday night, as populist and nationalist parties across the continent dealt a heavy blow to the European project.

Nigel Farage, Ukip leader, said the result represented an “earthquake”, while Marine Le Pen, the FN leader, said that there had been a “massive rejection of the EU”; mainstream politicians struggled to come to terms with what had happened.

Manuel Valls, the French socialist prime minister, called the FN victory “a shock, an earthquake that all responsible leaders must respond to”, as President François Hollande prepared to convene his cabinet to discuss the result.

In Britain, Labour was battling with Tories for second place , with the opposition party expected to just edge it. Nick Clegg, the pro-European Liberal Democrat leader who confronted Mr Farage in two televised debates on Europe, was set to lose most of his 12 MEPs. By 2am the Lib Dems had won just one seat, with London results delayed. Danny Alexander, Lib Dem Treasury minister, said the results were “pretty awful”.

Eurosceptics Storm Brussels

Also consider Eurosceptics Storm Brussels

France’s far-right Front National stormed to victory in European elections on Sunday night, leading an unprecedented surge in support for anti-EU parties across Europe that was set to reverberate far beyond Brussels politics.

The FN, led by Marine le Pen, claimed victory against both the centre-right UMP and President François Hollande’s ruling Socialist party for the first time in a nationwide vote, a stunning defeat for the mainstream parties in Europe’s second-largest economy.

Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, called the FN victory “a shock, an earthquake that all responsible leaders must respond to”.

Ms Le Pen said the victory for the fiercely anti-EU and anti-immigration FN was an “immense honour”, declaring: “What has happened tonight is a massive rejection of the EU.”

She said it was the “first step in a long march” to the “recovery of our identity” from the EU and the end of austerity policies.

The FN was expected to take 25 of France’s 74 seats in the European parliament, up from the three seats it won in the last election in 2009. It was the most dramatic result achieved by the party since Ms Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen won through to the final round of the presidential election in 2002.

In Germany, the neo-Nazi party was expected to win one seat in the assembly for the first time. The anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland party was set to get 7 per cent.

Jean-Francois Copé, president of the UMP, conceded defeat in France, saying the FN vote was a sign of “gigantic anger” among the French electorate against the policies of Mr Hollande. The Socialist party, also hammered in local elections in March, was beaten into third place in one of its worst election defeats in France.

The gains of the populists could be sufficient for Ms Le Pen to form an anti-EU group with other like-minded parties. That would give them extra funds and speaking rights to destroy the “Brussels monster”.

According to exit polls released by the European Parliament, the European People’s party centre-right grouping in the assembly is set to win the elections with 212 seats, followed by the Socialists with 185; the Liberals with 71; and the Greens 55. Eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties from both left and right won 228 seats.

Congratulations for a well-deserved victory for the Eurosceptics.

That said, don’t expect much change. As noted before, the center-left and center-right parties will act in union to block any anti-euro measures.

Race for Commission Presidency

The EU Observer reports Juncker Declares Victory in Race for Commission Presidency.

Jean-Claude Juncker declared victory in the European elections on Sunday (25 May), and staked his claim as the first man in line to claim the European Commission presidency.

With partial results and exit polls suggesting that the centre-right EPP had claimed 212 seats in the European Parliament to 185 Socialists, Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, was presented as the next president of the EU executive by jubilant party supporters.

“As lead candidate of the largest party, I have won the election,” he told reporters in the Parliament hemicycle. “The EPP has got a clear lead, a clear victory.”

He also insisted that he would not stand aside for another EPP candidate and issued a warning to EU leaders not to “ignore” the results by opting to “select the President in corridors”.

Leaders of the Parliament’s political groups will meet on Tuesday morning to begin the process of allowing a candidate to build a majority in the EU assembly. EU leaders will then gather in Brussels on Tuesday evening to have their first discussions following the elections.

Following nomination by EU leaders, a successful candidate will need the support of at least 376 deputies in the 751-member Parliament.

But Juncker stated that he would seek to build a broad majority of pro-European forces, including the Green and Liberal groups as well as the Socialists.

“I will not be on my knees with the Socialist party … but even party No 1 has to make compromises,” he said, adding that he had “a lot of sympathy with Greens and friends in the Liberal group”.

But Socialist candidate Martin Schulz refused to concede defeat and insisted that he, as well as Juncker, would try to form a majority.

Infighting Begins

And so the coalition infighting begins. The Euroscpetics will not vote for either Juncker or Schulz so it is going to be a difficult process coming up with 376 votes.

Should Juncker ultimately prevail, he will not be willing to bow down to UK prime minister David Cameron’s proposed rule changes.

The whole setup is messier than it appears at first glance. Significant rule changes which Cameron has promised before an up-down vote on the UK staying in the EU seems highly unlikely, at best, no matter who triumphs as EC president.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock