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Posted: May 26, 2014

Anti E.U. parties gain in European elections

By Matt Picht

The European Union's four-day parliamentary elections drew to a close Sunday, and the prevailing theme of the vote can only be described as "Euroskepticism."

Voting began Thursday as the E.U.'s 28 member states each selected their representatives to the bloc's 751-member parliament. (Via France 24)

A big upset occurred in France, where the country's far-right National Front party, headed by Marine Le Pen and running on an anti-E.U., anti-immigration platform, beat both the ruling Socialist party and its center-right opposition. (Via Sky News)

France's prime minister Manuel Valls called the results "a shock, an earthquake." (Via Government of France)

And a victorious Le Pen called the results a widespread rejection of the E.U. by France. "The sovereign people have spoken loudly to say they want to be master of their own destiny."  (Via BBC)

A similar upset occurred in the United Kingdom, where the anti-E.U. party UKIP has, under the stewardship of Nigel Farage, made massive gains throughout the country. Farage's stated goal is to withdraw Britain from the E.U. entirely. (Via EurActiv)

"The penny's really dropped that as members of this union we can't run our own country, and crucually, we can't control our own borders." (Via ITV)

Those high-profile anti-E.U. coups echo similar sentiments throughout Europe. "Euroskeptic" parties calling for a less powerful E.U. made significant inroads, particularly in countries that suffered the most since the 2009 financial crisis. (Via Deutsche Welle)

The shake-up isn't likely to upset the E.U. parliament too much, though. It will still be firmly in the hands of the E.U.'s centrist parties. But the vote will give the euroskeptics a voice in how the legislature is run and a platform to sell their message to more voters.

One Forbes contributor even went so far as to claim the vote heralded a "near-certain" break-up of the E.U., saying UKIP's triumph seems "likely to trigger a chain-reaction in which it becomes impposible for the London elites to hold out ... against the democratic will"

But the euroskeptics haven't had it all their way this election cycle. Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders and his far-right Freedom Party suffered a major loss to pro-E.U. parties. (Via Euronews)

Turnout across Europe was about 43 percent, matching the last European election turnout in 2009.

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