Eurosceptics on a roll as British, Dutch voters kick off European Union elections

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 5:56pm

Europe’s mammoth parliamentary elections kicked off on Thursday, with Britain and the Netherlands going to the polls in a vote that is expected to see a swing towards populist right-wing parties.

The elections, spread over four days in the EU’s 28 member states, are expected to see major gains for parties bent on dismantling the European Union from the inside.

The vote comes as the EU struggles for relevance in the aftermath of the euro financial crisis and as it grips with the chaos in on its borders in Ukraine.

“I believe in Europe, but I think there are far too many rules coming from Brussels,” Margreet de Jonge, 63, said as she cast her ballot in The Hague, echoing the view of many that the EU has become a bloated bureaucracy.

When the results are announced n Sunday, eurosceptic parties may top the polls in Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

The anti-immigration and anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) of Nigel Farage, and Geert Wilders’ virulently anti-Islam Party of Freedom, are both forecast to make big gains.

UKIP’s rise has rocked the British political establishment as a party without a single representative in its national parliament heads into the European election ahead of the main opposition Labour Party.

Farage, a former financial trader who likes to hold court with journalists in the pub, has ruled out joining a far-right bloc of Wilders’ party and France’s National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, saying the National Front is anti-Semitic.