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Global

Arena Politics German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the ballot box on the European Parliament election day in Berlin, Germany Success was also on the cards for Denmark’s far-right Danish People’s Party, which came top in the country’s elections after securing over 26 per cent of the national vote. Perhaps more disconcerting was the emergence of several more or less openly neo-Nazi parties entering the European Parliament for the first time, including Germany’s National Democratic Party and Greece’s Golden Dawn. When Eastern European countries have joined the EU, there has been a wave of migrants relocating to richer nations in search of better employment Taken together, the success of these far-right, anti-European parties somewhat diminished the lead of Europe’s three traditional mainstream parties. The top party in the European Parliament, German chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right European People’s Party, saw its support drop seven percentage points from the last European elections. So what caused the sudden trend towards the right in European politics? Is the electorate becoming increasingly Euro-sceptic? Analysts have come up with several possible explanations. In the UK, the vote for UKIP has undoubtedly been affected by voters’ attitudes towards immigration. Many Brits are critical of the EU’s open borders policy, which has been deemed to be responsible for increased immigration to the UK – when a new country is granted EU membership, citizens from that country are able to live and work freely throughout the union. In practice, this has meant that when Eastern European countries have joined the EU, there has been a wave of migrants relocating to richer nations in search of better employment opportunities. Ten years ago Poland joined the EU, with the then Labour government predicting that 13,000 Poles would come to the UK. However, the 2011 census showed 579,000 Poles to be resident in the UK, 90 per cent of whom have arrived since Poland’s 2004 accession to the EU. Every week tabloid stories in the UK’s media suggest that parts of Britain are struggling to cope with levels of immigration as increasing pressures are put on government-funded services, such as the National Health Service and schools. High levels of unemployment in some areas of the UK have also spawned ‘they’re taking our jobs’ stories in the Euro-sceptic media. four 42 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global 


Global
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