Election results reflect baffled Europeans

Les résultats électoraux, photo: CTK

In the past four days, over forty percent of the electorate in the twenty-five European Union member states went to the polls to elect new members to the European Parliament. Just a week before the elections, the EU commissioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen warned voter apathy could result in the election of anti-EU factions: "I must say that I'm really worried about the fact that everywhere low turn out can produce strange results. There is the danger that even anti-European formations and organisations could win sufficient support to have representatives in the European Parliament and that is certainly not in the interest of the majority of the people."

Election results,  photo: CTK
And in light of the embarrassingly low voter turnout over the weekend, Mr Verheugen was right. Eurosceptics have clearly won the elections. As was the case in the Czech Republic where the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats won 30 percent of the vote and the largely unreconstructed opposition Communists came in second with 20.3 percent. The strongly pro-EU European Democrats in coalition with the Independents won 11 percent, followed by the junior coalition partner, the Christian Democrats, who received 9.6 percent of the vote. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla's senior ruling coalition party, the Social Democratic Party, finished in fifth place with just 8.8 percent, while the Independents grouped around former TV magnate Vladimir Zelezny won 8.5 percent of the vote.

The results of the weekend's European elections truly reflect the complex situation in the European Union says political commentator Vaclav Zak:

Number of the seats in Parliament,  photo: CTK
"These elections were used by domestic or home opposition to attack government. In many countries and I would say most countries of the European Union, these elections were not about the future of the European Union, the European Constitution, European institutions etc., but were about the belief or disbelief in the reform policy of these domestic governments. So I would say it is very hard to say what these elections really mean for the European Union."

How do you predict the two leading Eurosceptic parties will serve within the European Parliament?

"It is very difficult to predict. The Civic Democrats would like to be a member of the People's Party faction. That means that they will be members of the party that this strongly pro European. So, it seems that they will have to support in some way the continuation of European integration. So they just presented themselves before Czech citizens as a party that is Eurosceptical but in the European Parliament they will do something completely different. That's the first point. The second point is that the Communist Party will be a member of the Communist Party club which is rather unimportant in the European Parliament so their importance won't be great I would say.