The Lowdown on The European Elections

Article published on May 26, 2014
Article published on May 26, 2014

The Eu­ro­pean elec­tion re­sults are in and things don't look pretty. It sounds wrong to say it, but anti-Eu­rope par­ties won the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions in many Eu­ro­pean coun­tries. But of course that's not the whole story. For your plea­sure, your pain and your en­light­en­ment, Cafébabel has con­ducted a colos­sal Eu­ro­pean vox pop...

Slo­va­kia, Tomas Mrva

We did it again! For the third time in a row, Slo­va­kia had the low­est turnout in the EU. This time, we sank to an in­cred­i­ble 13%. Ap­par­ently, Slo­vaks are in­ter­ested in the EU only when it’s about get­ting EU funds. The politi­cians have again proved that they failed in ex­plain­ing what the sig­nif­i­cance of the EU is and why the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment mat­ters. The 13 lucky new MEPs are per­haps quite con­tent they se­cured a well-paid job with­out break­ing sweat.

France, Mélanie

After the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions, sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment abound; sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment at hav­ing been un­able to speak to and con­vince the 25% who voted against the mod­er­ate par­ties and voted against a Eu­rope which they don’t un­der­stand and which they don’t ex­pe­ri­ence in day to day life. As a mem­ber of the Eu­ro­pean gen­er­a­tion, this gives me an even greater de­sire to do every­thing pos­si­ble to reach this sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, to lis­ten to them and to con­vince them to see in Eu­rope a fu­ture and in im­mi­gra­tion an op­por­tu­nity. I feel sad that our Eu­ro­pean gen­er­a­tion lives side by side with this back­wards-think­ing gen­er­a­tion that has folded in on it­self. The im­pact of these elec­tions won’t be vis­i­ble in our every­day life in the short term, but it will make it­self felt in the longer-term re­gard­ing peace; so­cial peace and peace be­tween states.

Scot­land, Ceris Aston

My friends and I watched the re­sults of the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions with a sort of fa­tal­is­tic hor­ror. Far-right, Eu­roscep­tic party UKIP gained its first ever seat in Scot­land, with 10% of the vote (the SNP and Labour have 2 seats each, the To­ries have 1.) Only about a third of Scot­land’s elec­torate could be both­ered to vote, so UKIP’s measly 3% was enough. More wor­ry­ing still is the fact that UKIP came out ahead over­all in Britain, beat­ing both of the es­tab­lished par­ties. In Scot­land, many left-wing and cen­trist vot­ers are see­ing this over­all shift to the right as a com­pelling rea­son to vote Yes in the In­de­pen­dence Ref­er­en­dum. I hope peo­ple will ac­tu­ally turn out for that…

Eng­land, Chris Bond

UKIP is the largest British party in the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment and the Lib Dems now have just 1 MEP. One hun­dred years ago, just be­fore Eu­rope tore it­self apart, the Lib­eral For­eign Sec­re­tary Sir Ed­ward Grey said prophet­i­cally, "The lamps are going out all over Eu­rope, we shall not see them lit again in our life­time." I hope sin­cerely that this elec­tion re­sult is merely a tem­po­rary fit of ab­sence of mind, rather than being in­dica­tive of the be­gin­ning of a re­turn to the na­tion­al­ism of Sir Ed­ward's time that went on to de­stroy Eu­rope twice in the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, but part of me can­not be sure. Lest peo­ple for­get, the lib­eral con­sen­sus has guar­an­teed the peace and wide­spread pros­per­ity of Eu­rope for the longest con­tin­u­ous pe­riod in its his­tory. I urge all those who cher­ish free­dom, plu­ral­ism and peace not to aban­don the cause. The lamp of lib­er­al­ism must be kept alight, for while the shad­ows may grow long, it is bet­ter to light a can­dle than to curse the dark­ness.

Italy, Marco Frat­taruolo

Renzi tri­umphs, Grillo falls back and Berlus­coni dis­ap­pears. There is an air of post-elec­tion ex­cite­ment in the streets of Rome, where the kiosks are under as­sault by the left read­ers and vot­ers who want to buy a copy of “LaRe­pub­blica" and “L'Unità” to put in their room. After one of the loud­est and most con­fronta­tional elec­tion cam­paigns of the last few decades, Renzi’s De­mo­c­ra­tic Party won with a re­sound­ing 40%. You can’t find a score like that for the Ital­ian left in any his­tory book.

Ger­many, Lil­ian Pi­than

Ger­man vot­ers can wipe the cold sweat from their fore­heads! Com­pared to the Eu­ro­pean rup­ture to the right, the Ger­man polls come as soft as a cot­ton ball. The Chris­t­ian De­moc­rats and the So­cial De­moc­rats came joint top. The lib­er­als came at the very bot­tom, while lots of Ger­man vot­ers still sup­port the Green Party. Com­pared to other coun­tries like France, Den­mark and co., the ad­vance of the eu­roscep­tics in Ger­many is rel­a­tively tame. Do the Ger­mans live in a mul­ti­cul­tural bub­ble? If so, it is thanks to Angie Merkel su­per­star, a pos­i­tive eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion and a Eu­rophile elec­torate in Ger­many ?

Poland, Monika

I did not even par­tic­i­pate in the vot­ing this year as I did not know who to vote for. I am ut­terly dis­ap­pointed by the cur­rent gov­ern­ment in Poland, whereas the par­ties that par­tic­i­pated in the elec­tions have been in power for the last 20 years or so and I knew they would win any­way. I am quite happy that the New Right won some seats in the EU par­lia­ment not be­cause I am fond of Janusz Ko­r­win Mikke and his highly out­ra­geous views, but be­cause I feel that the po­lit­i­cal scene in Poland (and in Eu­rope in gen­eral) needs a breath of fresh air. The out­come of the vot­ing proves that Eu­rope is slowly mov­ing away from the left wing.

Aus­tria, Ali­cia Prager

The Chris­t­ian De­moc­rats topped the polls in Aus­tria, the So­cial De­moc­rats (SPÖ) came sec­ond – both won five seats for the Eu­ro­pean par­lia­ment. The ex­treme-right Free­dom Party of Aus­tria (FPÖ) were a long way be­hind, but could win 7% more than in 2009. Look­ing at the last na­tional elec­tions (Na­tion­al­ratswahl) it could have even been worse. The Green Party won 15% of the vote. In Vi­enna they even came sec­ond be­hind the SPÖ. The Chris­t­ian De­moc­rats only came fourth in the cap­i­tal, well be­hind the FPÖ. It was, how­ever, sur­pris­ing that the two lib­eral par­ties came last. The new NEOS party polled well below expectations.

Slove­nia, Jasna Ra­j­nar Petro­vic

The re­sults? De­press­ing and stale, they left a dis­gust­ing af­ter­taste in my mouth. Firstly be­cause the Sloven­ian bu­reau­cracy didn't let me vote, and then be­cause the measly 16% that at­tended mostly voted for the party whose leader is a con­victed crim­i­nal and Mr Lojze Pe­terle, who makes me gag every­time I see his creepy face, who wants to ban abor­tion again, is going to sit in the Eu­ro­pean par­lia­ment again. It ac­tu­ally makes me feel like I don't want to go back home.

Spain, Su­sanna Arus

In Spain the two main par­ties (the con­ser­v­a­tive Peo­ple’s Party and the Span­ish So­cial­ist Work­ers’ Party) didn’t just slip up; they fell into a precipice. For the first time they got less than 50% of the vote. The evening’s rev­e­la­tion was Podemos, a left-wing party founded just a few months ago. They burst onto the scene, win­ning five seats. Not bad!? The other talk­ing point in Spain was Cat­alo­nia, where the in­de­pen­dence party Re­pub­li­can Left of Cat­alo­nia won. Cata­lan par­tic­i­pa­tion rose 10% and pro-ref­er­en­dum par­ties won 55% of the vote, a loud and clear mes­sage say­ing; we want to vote.

Latvia, Inga

I didn’t vote be­cause I for­got to deal with all the bu­reau­cratic stuff be­fore the elec­tions- I live abroad and it's more com­pli­cated to vote. I don’t re­ally know who won, but I like the re­sults in Latvia - peo­ple I would have voted for are going to Eu­rope i.e. Dom­brovskis and not Zdanoka.

Check out Cafébabel's spe­cial se­ries on the Eu­ro­pean elec­tions here.