Brussels, May 27 (AP/UNB) — A yellow vest protest march was taken over by black-hooded demonstrators and turned violent in Brussels, forcing authorities to detain a few hundred people.
The yellow vest demonstration was intended to be against social injustice on the day of European Parliament elections. But it degenerated into disorder, with some protesters pelting buildings and smashing barricades. Police intervened to disperse the violent demonstrators.
Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said around 350 people were briefly detained but were released later Sunday.
Police on horseback patrolled the historic center and scuffles broke out in different areas.
Brussels, May 27 (AP/UNB) — The European Union’s traditional center splintered in the hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades, with the far right and pro-environment Greens gaining ground on Sunday after four days of a polarized vote.
Turnout was at a two-decade high over the balloting across the 28 European Union countries. The elections were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU altogether. Both supporters of closer European unity and those who consider the EU a meddlesome and bureaucratic presence portrayed the vote as crucial for the future of the bloc.
In Britain , voters went for the extremes, with the strongest showing for Nigel Farage’s the newly formed Brexit party and a surge for the staunchly pro-European Liberal Democrats, versus a near wipeout for Conservatives. In France, an electorate that voted Emmanuel Macron into presidential office in 2017 did an about-face and the party of his defeated opponent, Marine Le Pen, drew into first place. In Germany , Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition saw a drastic loss in support to the Greens and, to a lesser extent, the far right. Italy’s League party, led by Matteo Salvini, claimed 32% of the vote in early projections, compared with around 6% five years ago.
“Not only is the League the first party in Italy, but Marine Le Pen is first in France, Nigel Farage is first in Great Britain. Therefore, Italy, France and England: the sign of a Europe that is changing, that is fed up,” Salvini said.
Despite gains, the vote was hardly the watershed anticipated by Europe’s far-right populists, who have vowed to dilute the European Union from within in favor of national sovereignty. Pro-EU parties still were expected to win about two-thirds of the 751-seat legislature that sits in Brussels and Strasbourg, according to the projections released by the parliament and based on the results rolling in overnight.
The continent-wide voting had major implications not just for the functioning of the bloc but also for the internal politics in many countries . Le Pen exulted that the expected result “confirms the new nationalist-globalist division” in France and beyond; Greece’s governing party called for snap elections after its loss; and Salvini was expected to capitalize on the outcome to boost his power at home.
“The monopoly of power is broken,” Margrethe Vestager, of the pro-EU ALDE grouping that includes Macron’s party. Vestager declared herself a candidate to lead the European commission for ALDE, which gained seats in large part because Macron’s party is itself a newcomer.
Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigrant National Rally party came out on top in France with 24% in an astonishing rebuke of Macron, who has made EU integration the heart of his presidency. His party drew just over 21%, according to government results.
Exit polls in Germany, the EU’s biggest country, likewise indicated Merkel’s party and its center-left coalition partner also suffered losses, while the Greens were set for big gains and the far right was expected to pick up slightly more support.
Turnout across the bloc was put at 50.5%, a 20-year high. An estimated 426 million people were eligible to vote.
The results will likely leave Parliament’s two main parties, the European People’s Party and the Socialists & Democrats, without a majority for the first time since 1979, opening the way for complicated talks to form a working coalition. The Greens and the ALDE free-market liberals were jockeying to become decisive in the body.
A subdued Esther de Lange, vice chair of the European People’s Party, conceded that the results indicate “fragmentation and a shrinking center.”
The Greens did well not just in Germany but in France and Ireland. “The Green wave has really spread all over Europe, and for us that is a fantastic result,” said Ska Keller, the group’s co-leader in the Parliament.
Germany’s Manfred Weber, the candidate of the EPP, the biggest party in Parliament, said that now it is “most necessary for the forces that believe in this Europe, that want to lead this Europe to a good future, that have ambitions for this Europe” to work together.
The EU and its Parliament set trade policy on the continent, regulate agriculture, oversee antitrust enforcement and set monetary policy for 19 of the 28 nations sharing the euro currency. Britain voted, even though it is planning to leave the EU. Its EU lawmakers will lose their jobs as soon as Brexit happens.
Europe has been roiled in the past few years by immigration from the Mideast and Africa and deadly attacks by Islamic extremists. It has also seen rising tensions over economic inequality and growing hostility toward the political establishment — sentiments not unlike those that got Donald Trump elected in the U.S.
Hungary’s increasingly authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orban, a possible ally of Italy’s Salvini, said he hopes the election will bring a shift toward political parties that want to stop migration. The migration issue “will reorganize the political spectrum in the European Union,” he said.
Proponents of stronger EU integration, led by Macron, argue that issues like climate change and immigration are too big for any one country to tackle alone. His lead candidate, Nathalie Loiseau, said she would continue the fight against nationalists in the European Parliament.
With the elections over, European leaders are jockeying over the top jobs in the EU’s headquarters in Brussels. The leaders meet for a summit over dinner Tuesday. Current European lawmakers’ terms end July 1, and the new parliament will be seated the following day.
Brussels, May 27 (AP/UNB) — European voters have turned out in record numbers to choose lawmakers to represent them at the European Parliament for the next five years.
More than 400 million voters in 28 nations had the right to vote over the past four days. Here’s a look at that massive exercise in democracy, a multi-national ballot by the European Union’s only democratically elected institution.
Who, when, what on the eu vote?
Europe’s voting marathon kicked off Thursday in Britain and the Netherlands. Voters in Ireland turned out on Friday, and those in the Czech Republic, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia on Saturday. On Sunday, people in the remaining 21 EU nations cast their ballots.
Voters in each EU nation chose some of the 751 lawmakers in the European Parliament, which sits in both Brussels and Strasbourg, France.
Seats in the European Parliament are doled out proportionally based on a nation’s population. Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta have the fewest seats with six each, while the EU’s most populous member, Germany, has 96 seats.
The results from every nation were being released late Sunday after the last polling station in the continent closed. Estimates suggested turnout could hit 51%, the highest in 20 years.
How important is the european parliament?
The assembly’s powers are slowly growing. It’s helped to improve air flight safety in Europe, cut down on plastics use, end mobile telephone roaming charges within the bloc, boost data privacy, set climate change ambitions and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars.
The parliament also has a say in treaties ranging from trade talks to Brexit.
The EU’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission, proposes laws, while EU lawmakers amend and negotiate their content with national governments, which are the real font of European power and are represented by the EU Council.
Often, the big impact of these EU elections is on the domestic politics of individual EU nations, like support in Britain for the anti-Europe U.K. Independence Party in 2014. In a repeat of her showing in 2014, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party, now rebranded as the National Rally, appeared have scored big in France. The polls are often used by disgruntled citizens to cast protest votes against their own national governments.
What were the main issues?
There are no “European citizens” as such, so voters tend to respond to national interests.
How Europe handles migration was a very significant concern for voters in Italy, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere. Economic concerns often influence voters, and Britain’s future in the EU appeared to have been a factor again.
An EU survey of public sentiment in April found that voters were most concerned about the economy, unemployment, immigration, the environment and climate change, terrorism and promoting human rights, democracy and social welfare.
Who’s likely to win what?
Early estimates Sunday suggested that the center-right European People’s Party will remain the biggest bloc in the European Parliament but lose perhaps more than 40 seats. Their traditional allies, the center-left Socialists and Democrats group, are also expected to lose around 40 seats. Together they are forecast to capture about 320 seats in the 751-seat house.
Among other mainstream parties, the liberal ALDE alliance is expected to capture just over 100 seats, well up from 68 in 2014, while the Greens could rank fourth with about 70 seats, up from 52. However, the liberals are set to create a new group with French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party.
As for the far-right and nationalists, the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, which combines parties like Italy’s League, Britain’s UKIP and France’s far-right National Rally, was predicted to win perhaps 20 more seats than the 37 it held in the out-going assembly.
How will the vote change europe?
Europe’s mainstream political groups appear set to hold control over the assembly, but with fewer seats and they will be pressured into uncomfortable compromises or awkward alliances in order to pass EU legislation.
Populist and nationalist parties have found rising support in national elections in many EU countries, but their pan-European impact will depend on whether they can form a strong political group in Brussels. That certainly is their goal. Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, head of the League party, has been putting together a populist group of national parties that he says aims to fundamentally shake up EU politics.
Forming such a group is not easy — 25 lawmakers are required, with at least one-quarter of the EU’s 28 nations represented — but it’s important because it opens up valuable access to EU funds and political influence.
What happens after the elections?
Once the results are in, the newly elected EU lawmakers will begin haggling to form parliamentary groups, possibly as soon as Monday.
The present European Parliament’s term ends July 1 and the new parliament will take their seats in Strasbourg the following day. At the first plenary on July 2, they will elect the president, 14 vice presidents and five other senior officials in the House, as well as decide on the number and composition of parliamentary committees.
EU leaders will meet on Tuesday to choose candidates for the bloc’s top jobs. Between July and October, the assembly is called on to endorse those candidates, notably the new president of the European Commission. Parliamentary hearings will then begin to confirm EU commissioners in charge of specific policies.
Brussels, May 25 (AP/UNB) — Voters in Slovakia, Malta, Latvia and the Czech Republic are casting ballots Saturday in European Parliament elections.
The stakes for the European Union are especially high in this year's selections, which are taking place over four days and involve all 28 EU nations.
Many predict nationalists and far-right groups will gain ground, and would try to use a larger presence in the legislature to claw back power from the EU for their national governments.
Moderate parties, on the other hand, want to cement closer ties among countries in the EU, which was created in the wake of World War II to prevent renewed conflict.
Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands have already voted, and the Czech Republic started voting Friday and continues Saturday.
Slovakia, Malta and Latvia are holding their European Parliament elections Saturday — and all the other nations vote Sunday.
Official results will only be released Sunday night, after all countries have voted.
Voting in the Netherlands may have already produced a surprise. An Ipsos exit poll forecast a win for the Dutch Labor Party, and predicted that pro-European parties would win most of the Netherlands' seats in the European Parliament, instead of right-wing populist opponents.
Overall, the European Parliament's traditional political powerhouses are expected to come out with the most votes. But the center-right European People's Party and the center-left Socialists & Democrats look set to lose some clout and face their strongest challenge yet from an array of populist, nationalist and far-right parties skeptical of the EU.
Those parties hope to emulate what President Donald Trump did in the 2016 U.S. election and what Brexiteers achieved in the U.K. referendum to leave the EU: to disrupt what they see as an out-of-touch elite and gain power by warning about migrants massing at Europe's borders ready to rob the continent of its jobs and culture.
The traditional parties warn that this strategy is worryingly reminiscent of pre-war tensions, and argue that unity is the best buffer against the shifting economic and security challenges posed by a China and U.S.-dominated new world order.
Voters across Europe are electing 751 lawmakers, although that number is set to drop to 705 when Britain eventually leaves the EU. Each EU nation gets a number of seats in the EU parliament based on its population.
The legislature affects Europeans' daily lives in many ways: cutting smartphone roaming charges, imposing safety and health rules for industries ranging from chemicals and energy to autos and food, supporting farming, and protecting the environment.
Dhaka, May 25 (UNB) -The race to become the next Conservative Party leader has begun, following Theresa May's announcement that she will step down next month, reports the BBC.
The contest will not only result in a new party leader, but also in the next prime minister of the UK.
Party bosses expect a new leader to be chosen by the end of July.
Mrs May confirmed on Friday that she will resign as party leader on 7 June, but will continue as PM while the leadership contest takes place.
She agreed with chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, that the process to choose a new leader should begin the week after she stands down.
Four candidates have confirmed their intention to stand:
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey
However, more than a dozen more are believed to be seriously considering running - including Sir Graham, who has resigned as chair of the 1922 Committee.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has ruled herself out, telling the Daily Telegraph: "I don't think it is my time at the moment."
She also hinted that she could work with Mr Johnson in the future, saying: "I have worked with him before... we were able to work together."
On Friday, Environment Secretary Michael Gove - another possible candidate - declined to say whether he would stand, saying it was "the prime minister's day".
Most bookmakers have Mr Johnson as favourite, in front of former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Mr Gove.
Tory MPs have until the week commencing 10 June to put their name forward, and any of them can stand - as long as they have the backing of two parliamentary colleagues.
The candidates will be whittled down until two remain, and in July all party members will vote to decide on the winner.
The Conservative Party had 124,000 members, as of March last year. The last leader elected by the membership was David Cameron in 2005, as Theresa May was unopposed in 2016.
It will be the first time Conservative members have directly elected a prime minister, as opposed to a leader of the opposition.
Announcing her departure in Downing Street, Mrs May urged her successor to "seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum".
She added: "To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not.
"Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise."
Mr Johnson told an economic conference in Switzerland on Friday that a new leader would have "the opportunity to do things differently".
Outlining his Brexit position, he told the conference: "We will leave the EU on 31 October, deal or no deal. The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a no deal."
Who are the Conservative members?
Most members of most parties in the UK are pretty middle-class. But Conservative Party members are the most middle-class of all: 86% fall into the ABC1 category.
Around a quarter of them are, or were, self-employed and nearly half of them work, or used to, in the private sector.
Nearly four out of 10 put their annual income at over £30,000, and one in 20 put it at over £100,000. As such, Tory members are considerably better-off than most voters.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have also begun their search for a new leader after Sir Vince Cable confirmed he would hand over the reins on 23 July.
Sir Vince announced in March that he would stand down after the local elections in May, but after a strong performance from the party some questioned whether he would stay on.
However, in a statement on Friday, he said: "We have rebuilt the Liberal Democrats. I will be proud to hand over a bigger, stronger party."