Swiss react to Euro vote: 'waiting for fog to lift'
Despite dramatic gains by Euro-sceptic parties, pro-Europeans remain in the majority after the elections to the European Parliament on Sunday, while uncertainties linger about the real outcome of the vote, Swiss media noted on Monday.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung highlighted the success of populist dissident parties, such as the National Front in France, which topped the French polls with around 25 percent of the vote, and Ukip, which looked set to take 28 percent of the poll in the UK.
While right-wing critics of the EU made gains, “nevertheless, pro-European forces will remain dominant,” the newspaper said.
According to the latest projections, the centre-right European People’s Party will hold 212 seats in the 751-seat parliament (down from 274), while the left-wing Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats have 196 (down from 187).
The Liberals have a projected 72 seats (down from 83), the Greens 55 (57) and the radical left (GUE/NGL) 45 (up from 35).
Complicating matters is the right-wing Euro-sceptic parties who have at least 116 seats but “who are divided and cannot be assigned to any one group,” NZZ said.
The European election results are being viewed with interest by residents of Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union but has crucial trade ties and a freedom of movement of persons agreement with the 28-country bloc.
Relations between the mountain country and the EU were strained by a February 9th referendum vote, when Swiss citizens backed immigration quotas, which are contrary to the labour agreement Bern has with Brussels.
“The fog around the majorities will be clear only in the coming days and weeks when it is clear which political groups new MEPs find their home in in the European parliament,” Stephan Israel, columnist for the Tages Anzeiger newspaper said.
Israel observed that both Luxembourg conservative Jean-Claude Juncker and German social democrat Martin Schulz are making claims for the top job as EU president.
He also noted that in some countries there is a lack of interest in Europe and the work that the European parliament does.
Voter turnout of 43 percent was virtually unchanged from the last Euro election in 2009.
The Tribune de Genève underlined the historic nature of the votes in France and the UK, where "europhobe" parties won more votes than other established parties for the first time in history.
The Blick tabloid, meanwhile, highlighted the victory of Martin Sonneborn, the former editor of a German satirical magazine, who won election in Germany to the parliament with a spoof party called Die Parte.
He ran under the slogan, “Yes to Europe, No to Europe”.
“I will spend the next four weeks in intensive preparation for my resignation,” Sonneborn, 49, told the German news agency DPA.
“We will try to resign once a month so that we can smuggle 60 party members through the EU parliament,” he said.
“So we’ll be milking the EU like a small southern-European country.”