Bulgaria Far-Right Falls behind EU ColleaguesEditorial |Author: Henry Rowlands | June 11, 2009, Thursday // 21:16| views
The far-right wing Ataka party was given its expected 2 seats in the European Parliament after receiving 11,96% of the vote from the Bulgarian electorate.
This result was generally what the polls had suggested and was a not a surprise to anyone in Bulgaria, as it did not show a rise or fall in the popularity of the party. Elsewhere in Europe however the far-right were celebrating on June 7 as they made huge gains in countries across the bloc.
The British right-wing party BNP surprisingly won two seats in the 736-member EUP, the first time it has won representation. The party opposes immigration and also wants Britain to withdraw from the EU.
One of the other big winners was pro-Israel and anti-Islam Geert Wilders. His Freedom Party came in second place in the Netherlands, only three percent behind the party that governs the country. The nationalistic Freedom Party in Austria and the Jobbik party in Hungary also scored impressive gains.
Far-right gains in Europe actually started last September in Austria, when the far right gained massive political influence in a general election that saw the FPO along with another far right party, Alliance for the Future (BZO), gain 29% of the vote. The FPO is even linked to famous Nazi Herbert Schweiger who recently said; "Our time is coming again and soon we will have another leader like Hitler."
In an era of mass cross border travel, the opening up of many previously unpopular tourist destinations and an increase in multiculturalism where does this extremism stem from? Well with nearly 1 in 10 Europeans officially on unemployment benefit, and the dream of EU integration causing "growing pains" for many nations involved, parties of the extreme right-wing have seized their moment. Do I need to remind the reader that the Great Depression in the 1930s actually brought Adolf Hitler into power?
European Jews have already expressed fears that the gains made by anti-Islam and anti-immigration parties in Sunday's elections will heighten anti-Semitism.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) called on the EU to "immediately engage in issues of tolerance and intercultural dialogue."
Hopefully these elections are a one off and do not show the true nature of EU voters. Sara Hagemann, a Danish analyst with the Brussels-based European Policy Centre pointed out that "Voters who turn out [in European elections] often have quite extreme opinions about the EU."
This year's European Parliamentary elections were the largest transnational democratic process ever undertaken, with an estimated 375 million people eligible to cast votes for their respective representatives in the European Parliament. The truth sadly is though that many EU citizens who chose to use this democratic process have again made the mistake of reacting to financial troubles by blaming the wrong people.
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