STOCKHOLM (REUTERS) – The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party became the country’s biggest party in Europe, echoing successes for the political right across much of the bloc in elections to the European Parliament, preliminary results showed on Sunday.While the Nordic region remains liberal and open, right wing parties’ portrayal of welfare benefits under threat from immigration have struck a chord with some voters, also helping the Sweden Democrats to win EU seats for the first time.Finland’s right wing The Finns Party, won a second EU seat, but fell short of pre-vote forecasts, preliminary results showed.
“I think most Danes support that we work together on areas like trade and the environment, but are tired of being bossed around by a flock of bureaucrats and judges who have never set foot here in our homeland,” the DPP’s top candidate, Morten Messerschmidt, told Danish TV.
“I hope that all the other (established) parties hear the Danes tonight. They have completely misunderstood what the Danes and the Europeans want.”
With 96.5 per cent of votes counted, the DPP had polled 26.7 per cent up from 15.3 per cent in 2009.The votes also saw the parties of Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Sweden’s Fredrik Reinfleldt lose ground.
“It is tough to be a ruling party,” Swedish PM Reinfeldt told members at a party election meeting.
“There are clear votes against parties in government in lots of countries in Europe.”
The DPP has seen its support grow strongly since it was founded in 1995 on a platform of tight immigration, tougher punishment for criminals and more welfare spending.It has never been a formal member of the government but supported current NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in power between 2001 to 2011 and was instrumental in pushing through a sharp tightening of immigration laws.The party has been moving toward the centre under the leadership of Kristian Thulesen Dahl, who took over from founder Pia Kjaersgaard in 2012.It has ruled out cooperating with France’s far-right National Front which stunned the political elite to claim first place in the vote on Sunday.Sweden’s right-wing Sweden Democrats were also celebrating on Sunday, winning 2 seats in the European parliament and winning 9.9 per cent of the vote, according to early results.
“It is our best result in any election ever. It’s a fantastic result,” Sweden Democrat leader Jimmy Akesson told Swedish TV.The result for the Sweden Democrats – who want to cut the number of asylum seekers coming to Sweden by 90 percent – was slightly above forecasts and better than its polling ahead of Sweden’s general election in September.Sweden’s Feminist Initiative also won its first ever seat and will send top candidate Soraya Post, who has Roma ancestry, to Brussels after winning 5.3 per cent of the vote.In Finland, The Finns party won 12.9 per cent of the vote, up from 9.8 per cent in European Parliament elections in 2009, winning a second seat.However, the party fell far short of the 19.1 per cent they received in 2011 national elections and expectations it would get three seats.
“The theme that resonated with the people was EU-criticism,”Timo Soini, the head of The Finns party, told Reuters.
“Doubling seats is a good result, one cannot always win by setting a world record.