European Union parliamentary election results show that centrist, establishment parties will maintain a comfortable majority.
But the details of the votes suggest the future of the EU could be in deep trouble.
In France, 30% of voters younger than 35 cast their ballots for the National Front, whose founder just suggested the country’s immigrant populations be thinned by Ebola. Only 21% of voters aged 60 and up voted FN.
Meanwhile, just 15% of voters 30 and younger went to the Socialist party, a brutal defeat for French President Francois Hollande, who’d promised in 2012 to make improving conditions for French youth “a priority.”
A similar phenomenon seems to be happening in the UK, where the UK Independence Party appeared to be racking up victories Sunday evening Eastern time. A recent poll showed 13% of those intending to vote UKIP for European elections were aged 18 to 24 — two percentage points more than for the country’s Green party, according to The Spectator.
Europe’s youth have a reason to be upset — nearly a quarter of them remain unemployed, and most their countries economies are in the tank. But even in the countries that aren’t, like the UK and Germany, Euroskepticism is on the rise. Sunday’s results seem to manifest feelings recently expressed by Philippe Legrain, a former economic adviser to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, in the New York Times last month: “That a remote, unelected and scarcely accountable official in Brussels should deny voters legitimate choices about tax and spending decisions is undemocratic and alienates people from the European Union.”
At the head of UKIP is Nigel Farage, a career politician who just warned about having Romanians as neighbours While Farage’s views on immigration have drawn the majority of headlines about the party, his stance on the European Union — that Britain should leave it altogether — is equally extreme. Farage believes British membership in the body is holding the country back, and that an exit would “open a door to the world.”
Even in Germany, which, thanks to its size and booming economy, still enjoys the most sway in EU bodies, young Euroskeptics have made strides. The members of “Young Alternative”, which is linked to the country’s official Euroskeptic party, AfD, has a similar makeup to Ukip, according to the BBC — mostly male, college educated, and fed up with their country’s current establishment. Last year, approximately 20% of voters under 30 voted for fringe parties, including the AfD, compared with just 7% in 2005, the BBC said, adding that research showed they’d performed well among youth.
“The German Eurosceptics are highly critical of the EU’s bailout policies, demanding the dissolution of the euro, a halt to EU expansion, and national immigration quotas,” the BBC said.
Results Sunday showed the AfD had won six of Germany’s EU Parliament seats.
It’s difficult to compare sentiment among Europe’s younger voters — who have access to a whole galaxy of political parties — and American ones, who don’t. So you can’t immediately say that anger about the lingering effects of the Great Recession is being directed at politicians on one side of the Atlantic, and at Wall Street on the other.
But having now grown up through the continent’s worst crisis since World War II, and given that the EU now enjoys more power than ever, young Europeans’ distaste for their elected officials is quite understandable.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.