May 26 - Eurosceptic parties rack up election gains as EU critics more than doubled their seats. Paul Chapman reports.
Eurosceptic nationalists have made big gains in European Parliament elections. Critics of the EU have more than doubled their seats in what's being seen as a continent-wide backlash against austerity and unemployment. In France the far-right anti-immigration, anti-euro National Front came top for the first time in its four-decade history. Party leader Marine Le Pen welcomed the outcome. (SOUNDBITE)(French) MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL FRONT LEADER, SAYING: "The sovereign people have spoken loud and clear, as in all the great moments of its history, in alliance with all those who no longer believe in France and who think the French are no longer worthy of liberty or sovereignty, the sovereign people acclaim that they want to take back in their hands the reins of their destiny." In Britain the anti-European Union UK Independence Party was also celebrating major gains. Early data put it ahead of the governing Conservatives and main opposition Labour parties. UKIP leader Nigel Farage says the European Union is paying for its mistakes. (SOUNDBITE)(English) NIGEL FARAGE, UKIP LEADER, SAYING: "One of its historic errors was to expand too far to the east and let in the former Soviet bloc countries and to do that with free movement of people when the minimum wage in Britain is nine times that of Romania perhaps explains why there's depopulation going on." The leftist anti-bailout opposition Syriza Party looks set to win in Greece. It's a message to the government after four years of EU-imposed austerity measures which have angered many. Overall the anti-establishment far-right and hard left parties have made big gains, their scores amplified by low turnout. Such groups will have about a quarter of the European Parliament seats. That's not likely to be enough to block EU legislation but it will give them a much louder voice.