Europeans turned their backs on traditional center-left and center-right candidates in Sunday's elections for the European Parliament, according to provisional results and their projections.
The center-right European People's Party (EPP) and the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) together had the most seats, but not enough for a combined majority, while the Greens, Liberals, and Euroskeptics made gains.
Far-right leaders were also poised to achieve their best Europe-wide result ever, although it would mean only a small gain over their remarks from 2014.
On the UK front, both Conservatives and Labour took a beating for their increasingly untenable positions on Brexit. The Tories sank to fifth place, behind the Greens, while Labour was pulled into third behind the Liberal Democrats.
In contrast, Nigel Farage's UKIP won the British part of the elections by far, with at least 28 seats – surpassing the former success of UKIP which had won the 2014 elections under Mr. Farage’s leadership.
Mr. Farage was quick to demand a seat on Britain’s Brussels negotiating team for the Brexit Party and warned: “If we don’t leave on October 31 then the scores you have seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election, and we are getting ready for it.”
As predicted by pollsters in the lead-up to the elections, the two largest political groups in the 751-seat legislature lost their combined majority.
Provisional results put the EPP in the first place with 180 seats, a drop from 216 seats won in the previous election but still being the largest of the parliament's eight groups. The center-right bloc, which currently holds all three top jobs in the EU, was followed by the S&D with 152 seats, down from 185 seats in the 2014 vote.
In France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen bested President Emmanuel Macron’s party in a repeat of her 2014 win which she dubbed “the erasure of the old parties” and said the vote “confirms the new divide between nationalism and globalization.” But her 23.5 percent vote share was lower than it was in 2014, a warning sign that she might have hit a ceiling.
Throughout Europe, turnout was at the highest in 20 years, at 50.5 percent, according to preliminary figures from across all 28 member states - bucking the trend of a steady decline since the elections were first held in 1979. The last time Europeans cast their vote, in 2014, turnout stood at 42.6 percent.
According to forecasts, the development of right-wing populists is very different. In Italy, the Lega of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is the strongest force.
The Hungarian Fidesz of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who wants to switch from the EPP to a new legal alliance, is posting double-digit growth.
In Austria, the ÖVP party of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is growing stronger and is far ahead of the SPÖ, while their coalition partner, the right-wing FPÖ, falls slightly.
Spain's Socialist Party PSOE won with 33% of the votes and snatched the leadership position held since 2014 by the opposition PP, while far-right VOX has made its way into Strasbourg for the first time.
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