The European socialist Left is not having a good evening. All across Europe the right-wing parties — demonized for years as “racist”, “xenophobic”, etc. — are winning big. In the UK, UKIP has shown very strong gains.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP — which also did well — was kept out of Manchester town hall for the counting by a crowd of violent “anti-fascists”.
Other parties that made gains were the PVV in the Netherlands, the Danish People’s Party, the FPÖ in Austria, and the opposition Popular Party in Spain.
For live coverage of the European Parliament election results, see this BBC page, which has streaming video. Obviously their focus is mostly on the UK, but they cover the rest of Europe as well, and post frequent updates.
Below the jump is a snapshot of the latest reports as of 5:20 pm EST. The time stamps are in British Summer Time:
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2218Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University says: It is beginning to look quite clear that the UKIP vote is well down in the East Midlands, where the party benefited from Robert Kilroy-Silk’s candidature in 2004. It is the one obvious black spot for the party in what is otherwise a night of further modest progress for the party.
2215 Labour’s civil war continues. Lord Falconer — who earlier called for a debate on the leadership — says those MPs calling for change were “people who would not remotely described as people who dissent” under normal circumstances. But chief whip and the prime minister’s ally Nick Brown says “we will do the party a lot of damage” with a leadership contest.
2215 The BBC’s Paul Henley in Brussels says: This is the first international gauge of public reaction across Europe to the way people’s government’s have dealt with the global recession.
2213 Exit polls in Sweden suggest the Pirate Party, which advocates the shortening the duration of copyright protection and allowing non-commercial file-sharing between individuals, has won a seat with 7.4% of the vote. The opposition Social Democrats and the governing Moderate Party are both predicted to finish slightly up with 25% and 18.5% respectively.
2211 The BNP have managed to increase their vote by three points in Leeds and Wakefield, to 10% and 13% respectively. They could be on course to win a seat in Yorkshire and the Humber, Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University says.
2206 Labour have come second to UKIP in Hull — the city of both Alan Johnson and John Prescott.
2206 Results from Edinburgh City Council show the SNP topping the poll on 21%, the Tories second on 19%, Labour in third place on 18%, the Lib Dems on 17% and Greens on 14%. UKIP have taken just 3% in the Scottish capital.
2205 The BBC’s Steve Kingston in Madrid says: The headline of the night is that the governing Socialists have come second — the first nationwide electoral defeat for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The conservative opposition Popular Party will be celebrating late into the night.
2203Tim Iredale, BBC Political Editor for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire says: Labour sources say they’ve lost one of their two seats in Yorkshire and the Humber — leaving the party with just one MEP in the region.
2202 Spain’s opposition Popular Party (PP) has won two more seats than the governing Socialist Party (PSoE), according to partial results from Madrid. With 88% of votes counted, the PP has 42.03% and the Socialists 38.66%. Minor parties are set to win five of the country’s 54 seats.
2200BBC political editor Nick Robinson says: What we are hearing from Wales — that the Conservatives are leading the popular vote — is extraordinary. We are talking about a night that is reshaping the political map in Britain.
2156 Nick Griffin has entered Manchester town hall via a rear entrance, having arrived in a police van, surrounded by minders and police officers. The BNP leader says the behaviour of protesters is “outrageous”.
2155 The BBC’s Geraldine Coughlan in the Netherlands says: It’s been a spectacular victory for the far-right Freedom Party to become the Netherland’s second biggest party in the European Parliament. Issues that many Dutch are concerned about are Muslim integration, the growing influence of Brussels over Dutch laws, and Dutch taxpayers’ contributions to the EU budget. These explain the Freedom Party’s success. However the message from voters is still mixed because pro-European parties also did well.
2151 UKIP leader Nigel Farage admits he is disappointed only to have gained 3% in the North East. He blames the expenses scandal for taking attention away from the debate about the UK’s membership of the European Union. “That’s stopped us having a real conversation with the British public on this,” Mr Farage adds.
2151 Preliminary results from Austria suggest support for the far-right Freedom Party, founded by the late Joerg Haider, and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO), which Haider founded after leaving the Freedom Party, has fallen since the last national election to 13% and 5% respectively. Meanwhile, support for the list headed by Hans-Peter Martin, who has campaigned against alleged corruption in the EU, is expected to rise to 17.9%. The two main governing parties, the People’s Party and the Socialist Democrats, are set to achieve similar results to 2004, with 29.7% and 23.8% of the vote.
2147 More on that North East result. Labour’s vote is down 9% and the Tories are up 1% in the region. The Lib Dems are unchanged. UKIP and the BNP are both up 3%.
2146 In the North East, Labour have topped the poll with 147,000 votes. The Tories have won the second seat and the Liberal Democrats have come third, taking the final seat. That means no change in the allocation of seats for the region.
2143 BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell blogs: There are rumours sweeping the parliament — and I stress only rumours at this stage — that the eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) has done stunningly well. One suggestion is that they have come second, with 18 seats. If true, UKIP leader Nigel Farage will have a very big smile on his face tonight. Read Mark Mardell’s Euroblog
2141 A spokeswoman for Manchester City Council says BNP leader Nick Griffin has been driven away from to avoid protests that have been set up at the North West region count. She said another effort would be made to get Mr Griffin inside the building.
2140 The Fianna Fail-dominated Irish government has suffered serious electoral losses in the wake of the recession that has gripped the state. Local election results declared on Friday already only put Fianna Fail at 25% of the vote, and this is expected to be repeated in the European election results that are declared tonight, according to an RTE exit poll. Meanwhile, the opposition Fine Gael are projected to win 30% of the vote, after securing 32% in the local elections. If the exit poll is correct, this will be the first time that Fianna Fail have failed to come first in an Irish national or European vote since 1932.
Javier Niederanven, Luxembourg says: Unfortunately, this has not been a pan-European election but a huge dress rehearsal for 27 national elections. Have Your Say
2139 Some early results for individual council areas have arrived. In Christchurch the Tories have won 34%, UKIP 30%, Lib Dems 13%, the Greens 6% and Labour just under 5%.
2135 Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University says the Greens appear to be doing well. “They may not do as well as in the final opinion polls suggested but it looks as though they will increase their share of the vote,” Prof Curtice adds.
2133 Results from The Netherlands put the far-right Freedom Party of the controversial politician, Geert Wilders, in second place with 17%, winning four seats in the parliament. The two main parties in the Dutch government, the Christian Democrats and the Labour Party, suffered a marked decline in support, finishing with 19.9% and and 12.1%. Small parties also performed well, including the liberal D66, which finished with 11%.
2133 Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague shrugs off the suggestion that the Polish Law and Justice Party — with whom the Tories plan to form a new European Parliament group — is homophobic. “Politics is different in Poland,” he says, noting that a Polish MEP in the Socialist group once praised Hitler.
2127 Exit polls in Greece put the opposition Pasok Party narrowly ahead of the conservative New Democracy (ND) party. Pasok is predicted to win 36%, a result which would see it gain no seats, while the ND is set to slip to 34% and lose two seats. The far right Laos are expected to win 7% and gain a seat.
2123 The BBC’s Michael Hamilton in Manchester has heard unofficially that the BNP have finished fifth in Burnley — once thought of as an area of strength for the party.
2120 In Bulgaria, the main centre-right opposition party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), has won 27% of the vote and gained two seats, according to exit polls. The governing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) trails with 19%. The far-right Attack Party is expected to win 10%.
2120 Conservative sources in Scotland have told the BBC that Labour are third in Edinburgh South West — Chancellor Alistair Darling’s seat.
2118 The BBC’s Judith Moritz in Manchester says protesters have blocked the entrances of the North West region count to try and prevent British National Party leader Nick Griffin getting in. She says eggs have been thrown, but there have been no serious disturbances.
2116 Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague dismisses the idea that Labour is being punished for the expenses scandal. He says voters are angry about “12 years of failure” from the government. Mr Hague expects his party’s share of the vote to be much as it was in 2004.
2114 German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister Christian Socialist Union (CSU) have lost seven seats, but still finished with a clear lead with 38% of the vote. Second was the CDU’s partner in the grand coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD), with 21% and one extra seat. The big story is the third place achieved by the liberal Free Democrats, which gained 10% of the vote and 11 seats.
2111The BBC’s Mark Denten in Sunderland says: This should be comfortable home turf for Labour. But it looks like their vote in the North East region is being squeezed. There were some bad omens for the party at the county council elections. In Hartlepool an independent was re-elected Mayor and North Tyneside went Conservative.
2110 French political commentator Agnes Poirier tells the BBC that the strong result for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP is “very bewildering… but the French left is very fragmented, and in the campaign it couldn’t find the momentum or muscle to talk about Europe”. The Greens’ third place was a strong result for them, she says, because “they were the only ones to talk about Europe — they were very effective”.
2105 In France, the governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has reversed the result of the 2004 election by taking 29% of the vote. The opposition Socialist Party (PS) were second with 17%. Last time, the Socialists had 29% and the UMP nearly 17%. The Greens came in third this year with 15%.
2101 The polls have closed at the end of four days of elections to the European Parliament in all 27 countries of the European Union. The turnout, officially estimated at just over 43% — was the lowest in the history of the elections. Exit polls suggest governing parties have done badly in a number of member states, including the UK, Ireland, Greece and Latvia, as voters express their dissatisfaction with efforts to deal with the global economic crisis. However, ruling parties in France and Germany appear to have done relatively well.
2059 The BBC’s Mike Hamilton has been speaking to the Lib Dems in Manchester. The Lib Dems say that it is looking less likely that the British National Party will win a seat in the North West region, because in Burnley — where the BNP is traditionally quite strong — the Lib Dems are looking as if they will come first and Labour will come second. In Liverpool and Manchester, according to the Lib Dems, the BNP look to be on course to come sixth.
2051BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson says: No count in Belfast until tomorrow morning, but we could see Sinn Fein topping the poll for the first time. It could be quite a historic day in Northern Ireland — although that phrase is much over-used.
2050The BBC’s Patrick Burns in Birmingham says: Talking to members of the Conservative camp this evening, they are really quite confident that they are going to be in a position to pick up three of the six seats in the West Midlands region. There is intense speculation about who will get the last seat. The British National Party have their vote concentrated in certain areas like Stoke, where they have nine councillors, but in the shires the Greens have been campaigning hard.
2041 The bookies have bad news for Gordon Brown. William Hill are offering 9/4 that he will be out of office as prime minister by midnight next Saturday, and 6/4 that he will be gone before the next election.
2040 BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell blogs: Turnout of around 42% would be a record low and mean all those adverts persuading people to vote have not worked. Some will argue, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that this means people are happy and content with their lot and the job of the parliament — I have heard that argument once already! Perhaps more significant in the long run is that it seems the centre-right will have a very good night and the socialists will do badly. Quite extraordinary at a time of economic crisis.
See the official results site for a pie graph of the results by group.