Anti-Immigrant Sentiment Helps Fuel Right-Wing EU Candidates

EU elections for parliament take place this weekend. Low turnout could mean parties on the fringe will do disproportionately well.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Voters across Europe are going to the polls this weekend to choose representatives to Europe's Parliament in Brussels. These elections take place every five years, and they can be an important measure of the mood of voters on the continent. This year, right-wing parties are expected to do well, as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: These elections don't generally get a lot of attention in the U.S., but they are important for two reasons. First, Europe's Parliament sets rules about trade, immigration, and other policies that can have a big global impact. And second, these elections send a loud message about how voters in Europe are feeling. This year, the message is clear. Sara Hobolt is a political scientist at the London School of Economics.

SARA HOBOLT: Well, it says that people are fed up with the mainstream parties and that they are concerned about issues, some of them to do with the European Union, but also to do with immigration. That's a major issue, and that's a major issue that attracts voters to the far right.

SHAPIRO: The same pattern is playing out in many countries across Europe. In France, the Front National is expected to top the polls. In the Netherlands, the same is true of the Freedom Party. In Denmark, it's the Danish People's Party.

All of these groups oppose immigration and the European Union. Here in Britain, it's the UK Independence Party. In local elections on Thursday, UKIP, as it's known, made huge gains. On Friday, conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said he got the message.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: People want us to deliver now that the economy is growing. We are creating jobs, but we've got to work harder, and we got to really deliver on issues that are frustrating people and frustrating me.

SHAPIRO: Still, people should not overstate the right-wing surge. Hobolt says these fringe groups might go from controlling 20 percent to 30 percent of the seats in Europe's Parliament. And she says people are less likely to cast a protest vote for these parties when choosing a national government.

HOBOLT: Voters in European elections tend to vote more sincerely or with their heart, so they feel they can express their attitudes in ways they wouldn't do if they know that this leads to the formation of a government.

SHAPIRO: The final votes will be cast Sunday with results coming in Monday morning. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, London.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.