EU Parliament elections start as ring-wing groups gain strength

World Today

Voting is underway for the European Parliament.

The 28 EU nations are choosing the 751-member legislature, which passes budgets and laws.

CGTN’s Mariam Zaidi is in Brussels with more.

Voting officially is underway for the 2019 EU elections. With many noting the irony that Brexit Britain was one of the first EU countries to go to the polls on Thursday along with the Netherlands.

“If you want Brexit, you’ve got to vote Brexit. We did it once. They ignored us. So we’re going to tell them again. And this time they will realize that it isn’t just the votes we get today, it’s what we might get at the general election that could cost them all their jobs. So they better listen to what people say today or they won’t be having jobs,” said Nigel Farage the U.K. Brexit Party Leader.

One person perhaps who may not need to wait ’till a general election is incumbent UK Prime Minister Theresa May who could be gone by early next month.

And her party looks set for an election drubbing with all polls pointing to a sweeping victory for Farage’s Brexit Party. They would join a whole raft of far right parties expected to do well.

These elections don’t just decide who becomes one of the 751 MEPS of the European Parliament. Eight different political alliances get to nominate a candidate for the EU Commission presidency. So whichever party gets the biggest majority or forms a winning coalition gets its candidate in the top job to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

In the Netherlands, the Socialists’ candidate talked about what he thought would be important for the next EU Commission president.

“I think the Commission President should himself take charge of the fight against the climate changes crises. We should also be very much involved in creating a social Europe, making sure that big companies finally start paying taxes all across European Union, and keeping everything and everyone together, that the most important issue for the next years,” said Frans Timmermans, Socialist Party EU Commission President Candidate.

Member state Hungary goes to the polls on Sunday. The Liberal Party’s lead candidate said what his group would do under a new five-year Parliamentary mandate.

“I’m pretty sure what we’re going to do, we’re going to build a new political force in the center of the European Parliament together with Momentum together with La Republique En Marche, with the troops of Macron. And that will be a new strong pro-European group to stop the nationalists and the populists but also an alternative to the bad governance by the old parties, by the Socialists and by the Conservatives,” said Guy Verhofstadt Liberal MEP & Party candidate for the EU Commission Presidency.

Kevin Matthews talks about EU Parliament elections in Netherlands and UK

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes talked with George Mason University Professor Kevin Matthews about Thursday’s EU Parliament elections in Britain and the Netherlands.