Italy: Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) was ahead of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, according to an exit poll issued after voting in elections for the European Parliament ended last night.
The poll by the EMG polling institute for La 7 television put the PD on 33 per cent and the 5-Star Movement on 26.5 per cent, with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party trailing on 18 per cent.
The reliability of exit polls in Italy has proved to be patchy in previous elections. Netherlands: The pro-European Christian Democratic party topped the Dutch vote for the European Parliament in the Netherlands, with the far-right Freedom Party of Eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders in equal second place, news agency ANP reported.
According to a preliminary count, the Christian Democrats will have five of the 26 Dutch seats in the European Parliament, while Wilders’s party and the centrist pro- European Democrats 66 party will each have four seats.
Austria: The conservative Austrian People’s Party topped the poll with 27.3 per cent of the vote, beating its coalition partner the Social Democrats, which ended with 24.2 per cent.
But as predicted, Heinz-Christian Strache’s far-right Freedom party (FPÖ) made significant gains, ending on 20.5 per cent (up 7.8 per cent on 2009) despite changing its top candidate just weeks before the election following a scandal over racist remarks.
“We are really happy and proud. It shows that the people have had enough of the European politics, that it is not the way the Austrians want to see the country working,” said Johann Gudenus, FPÖ deputy chairman.
The Greens were up nearly 4 per cent to 13.9 per cent, giving them three seats. Their leading candidat, MEP Ulrike Lunacek, described the result as “a dream” and “the best results the party has got at a federal level”.
UK: BNP leader Nick Griffin appeared to have lost his seat last night. Apparently conceding he would no longer be an MEP in the North West, he tweeted: “If anyone can tell me how to change my Twitter title without losing the account I’d be obliged:)”
Scuffles broke out as he arrived at Manchester Town Hall for the European elections count. Protesters screaming “Nazi scum” surrounded his car and dozens of police officers struggled to keep them separated from Mr Griffin and a handful of his supporters. He had to duck plackards hurled at him and dodge attackers who broke through police barriers, with officers rugby tackling some of them, before he was taken into the safety of the town hall.
Breathing heavily, Mr Griffin said his reception at the town hall was “fairly typical”. He appeared to concede defeat saying his party had “no chance” tonight, before adding: “We will be back.” Mr Griffin blamed Ukip, claiming they were now the protest party of choice, were not anti-immigration and were “anti-working class and going nowhere”.