Far-right parties gain in European elections

Ben Sales

(JTA) — Far-right parties across Europe won an increased share of the vote in elections for the European Parliament.

Although centrist, pro-European Union parties won a majority of the vote, led by the conservative European People’s Party, far-right parties made significant gains in France, the United Kingdom, Greece and elsewhere.

Greece’s Golden Dawn shrugged off Greek government efforts to crackdown on the neo-Nazi party, emerging as the third largest party in Greece and sending three representatives to the European Parliament.

With 96 percent of the vote counted by Monday morning, Golden Dawn had won 9.4 percent of the popular vote in Sunday’s European elections, up from the 7 percent in won in the 2012 national elections, according to official results.

That, together with its strong showing in last week’s municipal polls, dashed hopes that a widespread crackdown on Golden Dawn’s leadership would dent popular support for the party that has been blamed for dozens of attacks on immigrants in Greece. Many of the party’s leaders had been jailed, and its 18 members of parliament had been stripped of their parliamentary immunity.

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In France, the far-right Front National won a plurality of the vote with 26 percent. Party leader Marine Le Pen called for new national elections, and Socialist President Francois Hollande called an urgent meeting in light of the results. Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party and was convicted several times for Holocaust denial.

The U.K.’s U.K. Independence Party was forecasted to win 30 percent of the vote, up from 18 percent in the 2009 elections. The party wants Britain to withdraw from the E.U.

The results come on the heels of anti-Semitic attacks in France and Belgium. A shooter at a Jewish museum in Brussels left four dead Saturday.