EU Election Pounds Left

Low turnout across 27 nations leads to extremist gains
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2009 4:09 AM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied by his wife, Carla Bruni, casts his vote for the European elections in Paris yesterday.   (AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, pool)
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(Newser) – The center-right won a clear victory in this weekend's European parliament elections, while a record low turnout helped far-right and extremist groups make gains across the 27-nation bloc, the BBC reports. The ruling conservative parties in France, Germany and Italy performed well, while in Britain Labor came in a dismal third behind an anti-EU party. The hard right picked up seats everywhere from Holland to Hungary.

The results strengthen the position of José Manuel Barroso, the Portuguese leader of the European Commission, who now seems assured of winning a second five-year term at the head of the Brussels executive branch. Turnout across the continent plunged to around 44%, despite the growing power of the union's legislature. "It's a sad evening for social democracy in Europe," said the leader of the parliament's leftist group.