UK & World News
Far-Right National Front Win In France
Voters have dramatically altered the make-up of the European Parliament by doubling the number of MEPs from the populist, eurosceptic Right and the anti-austerity Left.
Marine Le Pen's far-Right National Front scored its first victory in European Parliament elections in France.
Without waiting for the final result, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls went on television to call the result "an earthquake" for France and Europe.
The National Front (FN) won around 25% of the vote in France, according to exit polls, easily beating the centre-Right UMP on 20%.
Exit polls say far-right and hard-left parties have gained ground in many countries, including in Greece where the extreme-right Golden Dawn are thought to have won nearly 10% of the vote.
By the half way stage, the centre-right parties were expected to be the biggest group, with 212 out of 751 seats.
The Socialists were expected to gain 185 seats, the Liberals third with 71, the Greens fourth with 55 and the far-left next with 45.
Eurosceptic parties were expected to win about 143 seats.
The winners in Greece, the anti-austerity movement Syriza, are thought to have topped the polls with more than 27% of the vote.
In Germany, the EU's biggest member state with the largest number of seats, the pro-European centre ground held firm, according to the polls.
Ms Le Pen, whose party beat President Francois Hollande's ruling Socialists into third place, told supporters: "The people have spoken loud and clear ... they no longer want to be led by those outside our borders, by EU commissioners and technocrats who are unelected.
"They want to be protected from globalisation and take back the reins of their destiny."
Eurosceptic Conservative MPs in the UK were quick to point out they had predicted the rise of the Right.
Harwich and Essex MP Bernard Jenkin wrote on Twitter: "Some of us who opposed Maastricht 20 years ago predicted it would lead to the rise of the Right in the EU: and here we are."
Douglas Carswell, the Clacton MP, said: "So maybe those of us who sometimes banged on about Europe were on to something?"
Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I think we should be concerned about some of these developments across the rest of Europe and that is why it is so important that the next European Commission, the European Council, the next European Parliament do get the message that there is rising discontent and tensions of many kinds in Europe."
In Denmark the Right wing Danish People's Party topped the polls, although its leaders have ruled out an alliance with the National Front.
Spain's two main political parties, the ruling conservative Popular Party in power since 2011 and the Socialist Party, lost major ground to smaller parties, mainly on the Left. The Catalan independence party also performed well.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) came in ahead of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) in his country's exit polls.
In Belgium, the controversial Flemish separatists secured four of† 21 EU parliamentary seats available in the country, more than any other party.†
Turnout in Eastern Europe was predicted to be low, with estimates of around 20% expected.†