Huffpost UK Politics uk

European Elections 2014: Six Nations That Lurched Left, Not Right

Posted: Updated:
NIGEL FARAGE
Nigel Farage, leader of Britain's United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) enjoys a pint of beer at a pub in South Benfleet, England, Friday, May 23, 2014. UKIP, Britain's anti-European party has made big gains in local elections, taking votes from both the governing Conservatives and main opposition Labour Party. It's a strong performance for the U.K. Independence Party, which advocates pulling Britain out of the EU and stopping the unfettered right to entry of European citizens. With about a | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Coverage of the European election results has been dominated by the sight of triumphant Nigel Farage celebrating Ukip coming top of the poll in the UK and the Front National's Marine Le Pen celebrating her victory in France, as part of what some have called Europe's "lurch to the right".

Other countries saw the rise of much more sinister far-right groups, such as the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party in Germany and the anti-Semitic Jobbik in Hungary.

Despite the media's focus on the rise of the (far) right, it wasn't all bad news for the left, however. Some EU countries did buck the trend with anti-austerity, left-wing parties winning new supporters and new seats in the European Parliament.

So who are these left-wing exceptions to the right-wing rule?

  • Spanish voters came out for the left
    PA
    Podemos, the left-wing anti-austerity group formed only four months ago, took nearly 8% of the vote and five seats. Coalition group United Left also gained four seats. Meanwhile, there was a 16% swing against the governing conservative group, The People's Party, which came top but lost eight seats and millions of votes.
  • The left-wing Syriza came top in Greece
    Much has been made of the rise of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party but it was the left-wing anti-austerity party Syriza that came top of the polls in Greece, gaining five seats.
  • Italians shun Berlusconi for the (centre-)lefties
    Prime minister Matteo Renzi and his centre-left Democratic party enjoyed a near-15% swing in their favour as they topped the poll, getting just over 40% of the vote. Meanwhile, the anti-establishment, anti-European Five Star Movement, led by Beppe Grillo, came second. Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia posted its lowest vote share ever.
  • The Socialists won in Portugal
    Portugal's opposition Socialist Party topped the poll with around 31.5% of the vote, pushing the ruling Social Democratic party into second place.
  • Sinn Fein led Ireland leftwards
    Sinn Fein, which campaigned against austerity, shot up to second place in the European Elections, gaining three seats in a 8.3% swing. Meanwhile, the governing centre-right Fine Gael came top with 3% more of the vote share.
  • And Farage failed to stop Romania drifting leftwards
    The centre-left governing Social Democratic Party remained on top in Romania, gaining five seats. It's not clear if Romania's lack of a right-wing spring is related to Ukip leader Nigel Farage's infamous remarks about Romanian families.