Inside Story

Anti-Europe protest vote?

The far right and hard left make significant gains in European Parliament elections.

Eurosceptics and nationalists have more than doubled their seats in a continent-wide backlash against mainstream parties in European elections.

The far-right anti-immigration National Front was the outright winner in France. 

Speaking from the constituency of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri said: “I’ve spoken to some immigrants who’ve come over from Algeria and Tunisia and they’ve worried this result will encourage the rhetoric of racism that is present in some elements of National Front, and also will divide French society.”

The anti-European Union UK Independence Party is claiming victory in Britain and the leftist anti-bailout opposition Syriza party looks on course to win in Greece, while other hard left and far right parties also fared well.

Al Jazeera correspondent Jonah Hall added: “It isn’t hard to see why these anti-EU parties have done so well. Living standards have gone down, unemployment has gone up, and with it hostility has risen in some quarters, towards the European Union, the open borders policy, and also towards mainstream politics and politicians who are increasingly seen as part of a disconnected elite.”

So why are voters being pushed to the extremes? Is the backlash more of a protest vote? Or is the European political landscape being redefined?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Petros Fassoulas – chairman of European Movement UK, a lobby group that campaigns for closer integration across Europe

Olaf Boehnke – head of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin

Stephen Booth – research director for Open Europe; a pro-reform think tank