Far-right 'may benefit from low turnout' in EP polls

BERLIN - The rise of Eurosceptic and populist movements and traditionally low interest in European elections has sparked fears extreme parties may gain in next month's European Parliament elections.

"For the first time in recent history, the far-right, Europhobic and Islamophobic parties are likely to win enough seats for forming a political group at the European Parliament," Ismail Ertug, a member of the European Parliament told the Anadolu Agency.

"Far-right parties in Germany now have a chance to elect at least one to two deputies for the European Parliament," the German Social Democrat politician said.

Germany’s Constitutional Court annulled in February a rule that said political parties need at least three percent of the vote to enter the European Parliament.

The Supreme Court’s decision raised hopes of small, populist and far-right movements to elect their first European parliamentarians in the May 22-25 polls.

- No strong interest

"If participation in European elections will be too low next month, far-right parties will definitely benefit from that," Ertug warned.

"Higher voter turnout can prevent the entry of far-right, Islamophobic and anti-semitic parties in the European Parliament."

Only 43.3 percent of the German electorate voted in the European Parliament election in 2009. The average EU turnout was 43 percent, the lowest since 1979. 

A recent poll by German television ZDF indicated that 72 percent of German citizens had no strong interest in European elections.  

Germany’s populist and far-right parties are planning to mobilize their support base and attract protest votes in the European elections on 25 May.

- Growing support

The Eurosceptic party Alternative for Germany has already seen growing support and is likely to get 5.5  percent of the votes, recent polls show.

Far-right parties like the National Democratic Party, Die Republikaner and the Islamophobic PRO NRW are also set for a strong showing.

According to Ertug, an ethnic-Turkish German politician who is seeking to be elected for a second term at the European Parliament, the rise of far-right parties and movements in several European countries likely to create new hurdles in Turkey’s European Union process.

"I am a politician who wants to see Turkey among the advanced democracies within the EU. The next years ahead will be difficult for Turkey’s EU process, but much more will depend on Turkey itself," Ertug said.

 "Turkey should again focus on the reform process and the EU should support Turkey’s reforms and honor its promises."

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