PARIS (AFP) Punishing incumbents, promoting extremists or pushing local issues, this is how the 27 European Union member states voted in elections to the bloc's parliament.
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A eurosceptic campaigner made major gains while the ruling Social Democrats endured their worst-ever election debacle.
Right-wing parties pushing for greater autonomy in Flanders saw a sharp spike in support in Belgian regional elections which overshadowed the parallel EU vote, with negotiations over state reform topping the local agenda.
British far-right party BNP won its first two EU parliament seats as Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party slipped to third place, early results leaving them at 15 percent, well behind the opposition conservatives who polled 29 percent and even beaten by the eurosceptic UK Independence Party on 17 percent.
The centre-right GERB opposition party came out ahead of the ruling socialists of premier Sergey Stanishev, according to exit polls.
Cyprus' opposition conservative party secured more votes than President Demetris Christofias's Communists, but lost one of its three seats.
Turnout in the Czech Republic -- EU presidency holder until the end of the month -- fell to about 28 percent, preliminary data showed. Despite the stayaway voters, Czech eurosceptics, backed by outspoken President Vaclav Klaus, failed to win a seat.
Danish turnout neared 60 percent boosted by a royal succession referendum that introduced gender equality. Counting continues in Greenland and the Faroe Isles, but the opposition Social Democrats came out on top despite fewer votes.
The largest opposition party, the Centre Party, led the popular vote and won two seats, with Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's Reform Party on one.
The nationalist and eurosceptic True Finns party took a first European parliament seat and a priest barred from the Finnish Orthodox Church for standing also got in as ruling parties suffered losses.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party romped home with close to 28 percent of the vote, leaving the opposition Socialists trailing on 16 percent -- down from 29 percent in 2004 -- in a vote marked by a record low turnout.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives trounced their main centre-left rivals despite a falling share of the vote in what was seen as a dry run for September's general election.
Greece's ruling conservatives slumped to their first defeat in five years, with the opposition Socialists narrowly beating the scandal-plagued New Democracy party's 36 percent.
The centre-right opposition Fidesz party carried 56.37 percent of the vote, but the far-right Jobbik party left its mark in this. The ruling Socialists saw their vote halved and five seats lost.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen's centrist Fianna Fail party took a battering in parallel local elections ahead of a vote of no-confidence next week. The main centrist opposition Fine Gael came out top in these polls, awaiting EU results.
Shaking off scandal, divorce action and a probe into misuse of state resources, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party beat the left with 35.6 percent of the vote. At 65 percent, turnout was the EU's highest.
The 14-month-old right-wing Civic Union party took 24.32 percent, with the Harmony Centre party, which draws its support from Latvia's large Russian-speaking population, second on 19.53 percent.
The conservative party of Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius took 26.53 percent, based on near-total results -- but on a turnout of just 20.57 percent.
Exit polls showed Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker's Social-Christian CSV party easily won legislative elections that saw his Socialist partners in the ruling coalition lose votes. Luexmbourg's EU vote was held simultaneously.
The Labour Party (PES) scored a resounding success, according to predictions by both major parties. Labour said it won 55 percent of the vote against 40 percent for the Nationalist Party, which gave Labour 57 percent.
Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) was the big winner, taking 17 percent of the vote and four of 25 Dutch seats in its first European campaign, according to controversial preliminary results.
The ruling liberal Civic Platform scored 40.25 percent, according to a partial results. The opposition right-wing Law and Justice party run by ex-premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski, President Lech Kaczynski's twin brother, took 28.6 percent.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates's Socialists took a battering as voters deserted to the far-left and the greens, near-complete results from the interior ministry showed.
Exit polls said the far-right would return to the chamber with the left-wing social democrats and right-wing liberal democrats that form Romania's governing coalition neck-and-neck.
The ruling left-wing Smer party took 32.01 percent of the vote, but an ultra-nationalist party picked up a seat amid one of the lowest turnouts in Europe of just 19.64 percent.
The opposition centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party defeated the ruling centre-left Social Democrats.
Spain's opposition conservatives beat Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's ruling Socialists in elections seen as a stiff test for the government amid the worst recession in 15 years and soaring unemployment.
The Pirate Party that wants to legalise Internet filesharing and beef up privacy on the web won a seat in the European Parliament for the first time.
Last Updated (Monday, 08 June 2009 07:18)