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9 Mar, 2019 15:03

Eurosceptic parties set to double seats in EU Parliament after May elections – poll

Eurosceptic parties set to double seats in EU Parliament after May elections – poll

Anti-establishment parties across the EU are expected to receive a surge in popularity at the ballot box, as a poll released Saturday indicates voters tired of the Brussels status quo could lead to a doubling in Eurosceptic MEPs.

Conducted by the German newspaper Bild between late February and early March, the poll surveyed over 9,500 voters in six countries on their voting intentions in May’s elections for the EU Parliament. In three countries – France, Italy, and Poland – anti-establishment right-wing parties came out on top, confirming a growing Eurosceptic shift among EU voters.

Parties expected to benefit from this shift in voter sentiment include Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party, which could secure 23 percent of the vote in France. In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s League Party is set to win 33 percent. Both right-wing parties are members of the Eurosceptic Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group, which expects to increase its number total of MEPs from 37 to 67 in the 705-seat Parliament.

Eurosceptic parties outside of the ENF grouping are also expected to benefit in May’s election. In Poland, Bild suggest that the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) will take 42 percent of the vote. While in neighboring Germany, support for Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to reach 12 percent.

The establishment in Brussels along with social democratic and conservative parties previously sounded the alarm against the rising tide of populism across the EU. A recent report by a pro-EU think tank warned of Eurosceptics gaining 30 percent of seats and paralyzing the parliament.

Speaking earlier this month, the European Parliament’s former president, Martin Schulz, slammed such populists as only being concerned with “my nation, my religion and my interest first.”

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The major pro-European group in the parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP), which unites center-right and liberal-conservative parties, has been shaken recently from within. Its Hungarian member, populist party Fidesz, put up a series of billboards aimed at billionaire George Soros and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

After being accused of conducting an “anti-Brussels campaign” and threatened with expulsion from the EPP, Fidesz said they would replace the billboards with ones urging Hungarians to have more children.

However, the party’s leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Fidesz may still leave the EPP in the near future, if discussions over the EPP’s future policy didn’t shift to a more anti-immigrant platform. Speaking to voters on Hungarian radio, Orban proposed the formation of a new political grouping in the EU Parliament, with Poland’s PiS to be the first like-minded party contacted.

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