Richard North, 14/06/2004  

“Anti-EU parties are expected to pick up seats, not just in the UK but in Poland and the Czech Republic along with maybe Denmark and Sweden.” So says the BBC World Service, for once describing the parties in question accurately instead of daubing the slogan “anti-European” all over them.

The new member states seem not to have been all that impressed by the wonderful opportunity to vote in what some media outlets have called “the greatest trans-border exercise in democracy”.

In the Czech Republic, 29 per cent of the electorate took part in the elections, according to early estimates. In Latvia, the turnout was 41 per cent, the lowest in any election since the country broke with Moscow in 1991.

In Hungary, where, unusually, there were no exit polls published about one third of the electorate went to the booths.

Overall, the turn-out in the new member states was estimated at 29 per cent, compared to the estimated 45 per cent averaged in the older member states, though it is fair to note that voting is compulsory in many of the latter.

In Hungary the mildly eurosceptic Fidész has overtaken the two left-wing parties that make up the government but that may be attributable to the Hungarians’ well-known refusal to vote for the same party twice in two succeeding elections. Keeps the politicians on their toes.

In the Czech Republic the free-market, eurosceptic ODS led by President Vaclav Klaus polled considerably more than the socilaists led by Prime Minister Spidla, though final results have not come through yet.

Meanwhile, in Belgium the regional elections gave a huge victory to the Vlaam Blok in Flanders calling into question the very existence of Guy Verhofstadt’s coalition government. (Would that be the voters punishing him for his stubborn refusal to support the USA in the fight against terrorism in general? One hears nothing of that.)

Votes have gone up from 1999 in the UK and the Netherlands, crow some of the euro-parliamentarians and their supporters in the media. Unfortunately, many of those votes have gone to UKIP and, as we have already reported, two seats were won by Paul van Buitenen’s new party that is dedicated to a complete cleaning up of the European Union.

Really, it is quite a pleasure to be reporting on the carnage governments being inflicted on governments across the EU by the people.

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