Voters have dramatically altered the make-up of the European Parliament by doubling the number of MEPs from the populist, eurosceptic right and the anti-austerity left.
Marine Le Pen’s far right National Front scored its first victory in European Parliament elections in France.
Without waiting for the final result, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls went on television to call result “an earthquake” for France and Europe.
The National Front (FN) won around 25% of the vote in France, according to exit polls, easily beating the centre-right UMP on 20%.
According to Exit polls, far-right and hard-left parties have gained ground in many countries, including in Greece where the extreme right Golden Dawn are thought to have won nearly 10% of the vote.
Polls in recent days had predicted that Eurosceptics could win as many as a third of the seats in the EU’s 751-seat legislature.
The winners in Greece, the anti-austerity movement Syriza, is thought to have topped the polls with more than 27% of the vote.
In Germany, the EU’s biggest member state with the largest number of seats, the pro-European centre ground held firm, according to the polls.
Ms Le Pen, whose party beat President Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialists into third place, told supporters: “The people have spoken loud and clear … they no longer want to be led by those outside our borders, by EU commissioners and technocrats who are unelected.
“They want to be protected from globalisation and take back the reins of their destiny.”
In Denmark the right wing Danish People’s Party is also expected to top the polls, although its leaders have ruled out an alliance with the National Front.
Spain’s two main political parties, the ruling conservative Popular Party in power since 2011 and the Socialist Party, lost major ground to smaller parties, mainly on the left.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) came in ahead of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) in his country’s exit polls.
25 May 2014 | 11:46 pm – Source: orange.co.uk