How Each European Country Gave The EU A Thumbs-Down In Last Weekend's Elections
On Sunday, European countries voted for their representatives to the European Union, and the results demonstrated, well, extreme political polarization. Candidates that were voted into the European Parliament include the daughter of a Holocaust denier; a member of an openly feminist Swedish party; and a man with a swastika tattoo. Governing parties were largely losers in the elections, prompting French President Francoise Hollande to hold an emergency meeting.
Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom had a bit more of an emotional response, accusing a member of his opposition of not being the "bloke" he claimed to be. Right.
So what exactly do these elections mean for the EU?
In a shocking turn of events, France's far-right nationalist Front National Party, previously considered to be extremists with little chance of influencing mainstream politics, won the majority of the votes in Sunday's elections. President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party had its lowest support since 1979. Marine Le Pen, whose father is infamous for founding the party (and belittling the Holocaust) has promised to halt immigration into France and destroy the EU from within. Cue evil cackle.
The United Kingdom
During the last parliamentary elections in 2009, the center-right Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron won the largest portion of the votes, with the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a right-wing populist party, coming in second place. This year, Cameron's party suffered its worst defeat ever with UKIP winning the majority of the votes, and the Labour Party coming in second.
It is the first time the Conservative Party has not won the largest or second-largest portion of the votes. With the largest share of seats going to the Labour Party and UKIP, the UK followed the larger European pattern of voting in representatives who are unlikely to want to grab a beer together, let alone collaborate together on political issues.
Like the U.K and France, Sweden's governing party lost support as parties previously thought to be on the fringe of Swedish politics rose to the forefront. Sweden's officially feminist party, the Feminist Initiative (FI) won over five percent of the votes in Sunday's election and will be represented by Soraya Post, a 57-year-old Roma human rights activist on the European Parliament. Post is the first person of Roma descent to be elected to political office in Sweden, and people are hopeful that Post can alleviate ethnic tensions in Sweden and abroad.
The FI's platform involves restoring equality for women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ community, and Post recently told New York Magazine "It will be part of my work to raise awareness for more women in more countries to get active in feminist policy so we can create our own group in the European Parliament."
Post has said that while all parties in Sweden call themselves feminist, FI is making the greatest strides toward gender equality, a statement which only strengthens our image of Sweden as a nordic paradise where women and men alike have the word feminist embroidered on the butts of all their ski pants.
Post will be joined by members of Sweden's Green Party, which won over 13 percent of the vote, and Sweden's right-wing Democrats (SD) — a less likely ally, that also moved out of obscurity, winning 10 percent of the votes. Like many of political parties who came out on top across Europe, SD ran on a platform that was against immigration and European integration.
In Greece, the far-left Syriza party won the largest percentage of votes on a platform of anti-austerity. While the country seems to have lurched to the left with this election, Greece's far-right fascist Golden Dawn also gained a substantial amount of support, winning seats in the parliament for the first time. Both parties, though radically different in ideology, blame the EU for Greece's economic problems.
Syriza, which called on citizens of Athens to protest German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit in April, wants to move away from dependency on the EU. Golden Dawn is also against European integration, mainly on the grounds of preventing further immigration. The party, which has been accused of anti-semitism (this is and sometimes sports swastika tattoos) currently has some members in jail on charges of being involved in organized crime.