Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 17:38 UK

Euro election country-by-country

National concerns appear to overshadow pan-European issues in the run-up to the 4-7 June European Parliament elections.

Flags of EU member states

In this guide the BBC's Laurence Peter looks at the issues country-by-country.

The parliament is being reduced in size to 736 MEPs, from 785 in the outgoing parliament. The new number of seats per country is given here first, with the previous number in brackets.

AUSTRIA - 17 seats (18)

Opinion polls suggest the biggest share of the vote will go to the partners in the ruling "grand" coalition - the centre-left Social Democrats (SPO) and the conservative Austrian People's Party (OeVP).

But far-right parties won nearly 29% of the vote in last year's national elections.

The Spring 2009 Eurobarometer survey suggested a high degree of Euroscepticism among Austrian voters, with 35% of respondents saying they were against the EU.

The EU's eastward expansion is a major issue in Austria, with the government opposed to Turkey's EU membership bid and reluctant to lift restrictions on foreign workers. Austrians are also watching the financial crisis in the former communist bloc closely, because Austrian banks do a lot of business there.

BELGIUM - 22 (24)

Belgium's coalition politics has been rocked by crises over devolution plans and the controversial break-up of Fortis, one of the country's largest banks.

Squabbling between the Dutch- and French-speaking communities over devolution of powers from the centre led to nine months of political paralysis.

Then the Fortis scandal led to the formation of a new government, with veteran politician Herman Van Rompuy replacing Yves Leterme as prime minister.

In French-speaking Wallonia the Socialist Party is embroiled in a sleaze scandal. Walloon Health Minister Didier Donfut resigned after it emerged that he had been receiving consultancy fees on top of his normal salary.

Belgium's federal politics and its role as the EU's headquarters make it one of the least Eurosceptic member states.

BULGARIA - 17 (18)

This election is seen as a dress rehearsal for Bulgaria's parliamentary elections on 5 July.

The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) of Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev is expected to be in a close race with a centre-right party, the Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria (GERB).

In Bulgaria's first European elections, in 2007, turnout was just 28.6%. The EU average in the 2004 elections was 45.5%.

Unemployment is the chief concern of Bulgarian voters, according to the Eurobarometer Spring 2009 survey, but the next biggest issue for them is crime. Last year the European Commission stripped Bulgaria of 220m euros (£188m) in EU funding over its failure to tackle corruption and organised crime.

Energy security could also be a big issue, since Bulgaria was hit hard by the shutdown of Russian gas supplies in the bitter cold of January.

CYPRUS - 6 (6)

The European election is taking place only in the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, because the breakaway, Turkish-controlled north is not part of the EU.

President Demetris Christofias, leader of the communist-rooted AKEL party, came to power in February 2008 pledging to reinvigorate the divided island's stalled peace process. He has had several meetings with his northern counterpart, but progress remains slow.

Reunification is a major campaign issue. Movement on the Cyprus issue is intertwined with Turkey's EU membership bid.


It is not clear what impact the recent turmoil in Czech coalition politics will have on the electorate. The centre-right government of Mirek Topolanek was replaced in early May by a government of technocrats, after Mr Topolanek lost a confidence vote in parliament.

The turmoil happened half-way through the Czech presidency of the EU, and now Czechs are looking ahead to early general elections in October.

Campaigning got off to a bumpy start, with a row over the broadcasting of an anti-Roma (Gypsy) advert by a far-right group, the National Party (NS).

The profile of EU issues has been raised in the Czech Republic by the country's presidency role and by President Vaclav Klaus's opposition to the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Topolanek's Civic Democrats (ODS) were seen as close to the Bush administration on security issues, especially the controversial US missile defence plan. The Obama team's rethink on the plan - which included siting a radar base in the Czech Republic - has given ammunition to the ODS's opponents. The ODS also remains divided over the Lisbon Treaty.

DENMARK - 13 (14)

Denmark has a reputation as one of the EU's most Eurosceptic countries. Danes rejected the euro in 2000 and had earlier rejected the Maastricht Treaty - though it was approved with amendments in a second vote in 1993.

The Liberal Party heads a centre-right coalition with the Conservative People's Party, but relies on support from the populist, right-wing Danish People's Party (DF) for a parliamentary majority.

Denmark's economic model of "flexicurity", combining a flexible labour market with generous welfare benefits and training, has won many admirers across the EU.

ESTONIA - 6 (6)

The investment boom that followed EU accession has turned to slump, with Estonia now adopting austerity measures in an effort to stay on course for euro entry in 2011.

The economy is likely to shrink as much as 12.3% in 2009, according to a central bank forecast.

Like their Baltic neighbours, Estonians will be focusing on the parties' plans for jobs, businesses and social welfare.

Estonia is a pioneer of internet voting, which it has developed more than most other EU member states.

FINLAND - 13 (14)

The Centre Party governs in a centre-right coalition with the conservative National Coalition Party, the Greens and the Swedish People's Party.

Finnish MEPs' attendance at European Parliament plenary sessions is 92% on average - the third best after Austria and Estonia, Finland's Helsingin Sanomat news website reports.

Finland, like Denmark and Ireland, uses a form of proportional representation that allows voters to pick individual candidates for the same party, rather than just the party itself. In the debate about voter apathy some argue that this system brings voters closer to MEPs.

FRANCE - 72 (78)

The economic crisis appears to be eclipsing other issues in France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy struck a controversially protectionist note when he suggested that French carmakers should put French jobs first. He has also been vociferous in demanding tougher regulations for hedge funds and tax havens. Amid widespread anger at reckless bank lending and despair at rising unemployment these themes are potential vote winners.

In his first campaign speech, on 5 May, he strongly defended the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has provided generous subsidies to French farmers.

Mr Sarkozy's centre-right UMP is expected to do much better this time than in 2004, when it won 17 seats, compared with 31 for the Socialist Party (PS). This election is a big test for the PS under its new leader, Martine Aubry.

Veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen - at 80 the oldest MEP - is a candidate again, as is his daughter Marine, tipped to succeed him as National Front (FN) leader.

A dark horse in this election could be the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) launched by far-left politician Olivier Besancenot in February.

GERMANY - 99 (99)

Germany will elect 99 MEPs - more than any other country. It has long had a political consensus in favour of deeper EU integration.

But this time Germans are looking further ahead - to the September general elections, in which Vice-Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), will challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU).

The economic crisis has put severe strain on the CDU-SPD "grand" coalition. The German economy - Europe's biggest - is expected to contract 6% this year, and unemployment is 8.6% and rising. There are doubts about whether another grand coalition would be viable after the September election.

The future of Germany's car industry is a major issue, with Italy's Fiat and Canadian group Magna vying to buy Opel, which is part of the General Motors European division. Opel is the largest employer in the Rhineland-Palatinate state.

The German Greens, a powerful voice with 13 MEPs, will make climate change and energy policy prominent in the campaign.

A new force in German politics - the anti-capitalist Left Party - may win votes from people hit hard by the crisis and disillusioned with the familiar mainstream parties.

GREECE - 22 (24)

The pain of the economic downturn - accompanied by urban rioting and strikes - has put the ruling conservative New Democracy Party under severe pressure. It has a one-seat parliamentary majority, making an early general election a real possibility.

So the opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) is confident that it will come top in this election.

Greece is at the centre of some tricky regional issues in the EU, especially Macedonia's stalled EU membership bid and the Cyprus dispute. But Greek voters are likely to be more worried about the economy and the expected slump in tourism revenue this summer.

HUNGARY - 22 (24)

The elections are expected to bring big gains for the conservative opposition party Fidesz, as the ruling Socialist Party has been forced to adopt tough austerity measures in the economic crisis. Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who resigned in March, was a casualty of the crisis.

The international banking crisis has exposed the precarious state of Hungary's finances. Hungary has been granted a $25.1bn (£16.9bn) IMF-led rescue package to avoid collapse.

Job losses and the collapse in the property market will be major concerns for Hungarian voters.


Two things loom large in this election for Ireland: the dire state of the economy and Irish voters' "No" to the Lisbon Treaty.

The big question is whether anxiety about the economy translates into a desire to get closer to Europe again. Europeans who want the Lisbon Treaty to come into force this year - including all the EU governments - will pay particular attention to Irish voting trends. A second Irish referendum on the treaty is expected in October.

But for many Irish voters the economy will be the only important issue. The severity of the recession - 10.6% unemployment and a predicted contraction of 6.5% this year - could lead voters to punish the ruling Fianna Fail party.

Exit polls from the local elections on 4 June indicate big gains for the opposition Fine Gael party.

Before the crash, Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" prosperity was partly fuelled by EU subsidies. Pro-Lisbon politicians now have to put the case again for Ireland to play its traditional role as a "good European".

ITALY - 72 (78)

Billionaire Silvio Berlusconi, now in his third term as prime minister, is tipped to come out on top again in this election. He has formed a powerful centre-right coalition, People of Freedom (PdL), which could give Italian MEPs more clout in the parliament's conservative EPP bloc. The new party is a fusion of Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia with the "post-Fascist" National Alliance of Gianfranco Fini.

The PdL's main rival, the centre-left Democratic Party, was founded in 2007 and has struggled to make a big impact despite Italy's economic hardship.

A new election threshold of 4% is likely to make it harder for smaller parties, such as the Greens or Communists, to win seats.

The Spring 2009 Eurobarometer opinion poll suggests Italians are most concerned about the economic crisis, but immigration also figures strongly as an election issue - more than in many other EU countries.

Aspects of the Italian government's crackdown on illegal immigrants, such as the fingerprinting of Roma (Gypsies), have been criticised in the European Parliament.

The anti-immigration Northern League, a key ally of Mr Berlusconi, hopes to capitalise on this issue and push beyond its strongholds in the north.

LATVIA - 8 (9)

The impact of the global economic crisis on Latvia has been severe, bringing social and political turmoil.

Valdis Dombrovskis, an MEP, was brought in to head a new coalition government in March, following the resignation of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis. Anti-government protesters had earlier clashed with police in the capital Riga.

There appear to be no easy choices for Latvian voters, as Mr Dombrovskis has warned there is no escaping further substantial budget cuts.

Property prices have collapsed in Latvia, which has gone from being the EU's fastest-growing economy to one of the worst-performing. The economy is expected to contract by at least 12% in 2009 and unemployment is soaring.

An IMF-led bail-out worth 7.5bn euros ($9.6bn; £6.7bn) was necessary to keep the economy afloat in December.

LITHUANIA - 12 (13)

Austerity measures are the order of the day, with the government striving to reduce the budget deficit, so that it does not have to seek an emergency IMF loan like neighbouring Latvia.

Lithuania's economy is expected to contract by as much as 15% this year, and worries about jobs and social welfare are overshadowing the election. The capital Vilnius saw rioting in January, as anger over economic hardship boiled over.

The big political news in Lithuania recently has been the election - by a landslide - of Dalia Grybauskaite as the country's first female president. She is going home after working as EU budget commissioner, and voters apparently hope her financial experience and EU connections will help Lithuania in the current crisis.


Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is the longest-serving PM in the EU, having been in power since 1995. He heads the conservative Christian Social Party, in a coalition government.

National parliamentary elections are being held on the same day as the European vote in the Grand Duchy, where 41% of the population is made up of other EU nationals.

International criticism of Luxembourg's banking secrecy - especially from Germany - has put it firmly on the map in the current global crisis.

MALTA - 5 (5)

Two parties dominate Malta's polarised politics - the centre-right Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, and the Labour Party, led by former MEP Joseph Muscat. Traditionally they are evenly matched.

Malta has just five MEPs - the smallest representation in the EU.

The Spring 2009 Eurobarometer survey indicates that immigration is the biggest election issue in Malta, which is struggling to cope with boatloads of migrants from North Africa. Among Maltese respondents 67% put immigration top, compared with an EU average of 27%.


The main parties in the ruling coalition are the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Labour Party (PdvA), who won seven seats each in the 2004 European election.

But in this election the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, stormed into second place, with 16.9% of the vote. Mr Wilders, a vehement critic of Islam, expects the PVV to get four seats in the European Parliament.

The PVV triumph was based on more than 92% of the vote count, as Dutch officials released "preliminary" results ahead of time, contrary to EU rules.

The big loser was the PdvA, set to lose four of its seats.

Immigration has been a hot topic in Dutch politics in recent years, amid concerns about Islamic militants and the push for EU enlargement and integration. Such fears were part of the mix that led Dutch voters to reject the European constitution in 2005.

POLAND - 50 (54)

The governing centre-right Civic Platform (PO) is neck-and-neck with the right-wing, conservative Law and Justice (PiS), opinion polls suggest.

The iconic former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa has made his mark in the campaign by attending the congress of Libertas, a pan-European Eurosceptic party opposed to the EU's Lisbon Treaty. Mr Walesa's 33-year-old son Jaroslaw meanwhile is a candidate in Gdansk for Civic Platform.

Polish turnout in the 2004 election was a meagre 20.8% - the second lowest in the EU. The latest Eurobarometer survey gave a low figure for Polish voters' interest in these elections - just 30%.

Poland's EU membership has allowed many Poles to find jobs in older member states - especially the UK and Ireland. But more recently the recession has dramatically reduced such opportunities.

Polish politicians are using the internet to rally support among the big Polish diaspora, the website reports.

PORTUGAL - 22 (24)

Portugal will hold national parliamentary elections later this year, so the European vote is seen as a dress rehearsal - a key test for the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

Opinion polls suggest the Socialists will beat their closest rival - the Social Democratic Party (PSD). But the economic hardship that many Portuguese are suffering now means the Socialists will struggle to repeat their 2004 performance, when they won half of all Portugal's seats in the European Parliament.

ROMANIA - 33 (35)

Unemployment and social protection are big issues in Romania, which has gone from being one of Europe's fastest-growing economies to a recipient of international rescue loans.

Romania faces tough challenges in the current crisis. Demand for its exports has fallen and thousands of Romanians who found jobs in older EU member states - notably Italy and Spain - face an uncertain future.

The elections are a test for the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Emil Boc, whose centre-right Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) governs with the Social Democrat Party (PSD).

Romania, like neighbouring Bulgaria, is under EU pressure to reform its judiciary and stamp out government corruption.

Former model Elena Basescu gives this campaign a touch of glamour. Dubbed the "Paris Hilton of the Carpathians," she is the daughter of President Traian Basescu and is running as an independent.

SLOVAKIA - 13 (14)

A big challenge for Slovak candidates is to boost voter turnout, which was the lowest in the EU in 2004 - just 17%.

The candidates this time include an African-born singer, a fitness trainer and a former ice hockey star, the euobserver website reports.

Slovakia has enjoyed solid growth since joining the EU, attracting significant Western investment and becoming a major exporter of cars. But the recession has cut demand for its exports, fuelling anxiety about jobs.

Asked to state their top priority for MEPs, 63% of Slovaks in the Eurobarometer survey put "solidarity between EU member states" - more than any other country.

Prime Minister Robert Fico, of the left-wing Smer Party, has pledged to improve social welfare as a priority.

Unlike most of its neighbours, Slovakia is in the eurozone, and many Slovak politicians see that as an important defence against currency speculators.

SLOVENIA - 7 (7)

In January 2007 Slovenia became the first former communist state to join the eurozone. It has not been hit by the economic crisis as hard as some of its bigger neighbours, but the election will still test the leadership of Prime Minister Borut Pahor and his Social Democrats.

Slovenia has made headlines over its refusal to let Croatia's EU accession talks resume while a border demarcation dispute remains unresolved.

SPAIN - 50 (54)

Grim economic news is dominating Spanish politics. Spain's first-quarter contraction - 1.8% - is its worst for 50 years and unemployment has soared to 17.4%, the highest rate in the EU.

In the 2004 European elections the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) came narrowly ahead of the conservative Popular Party (PP), but this time the PP will come out on top, opinion polls suggest.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has much work to do to blunt the PP's challenge, especially as he lacks a majority in parliament and could face a confidence vote if the Socialists come off badly.

Spain's boom in recent years attracted many workers from Eastern Europe - especially Romanians. There was plenty of work on building sites, but the bursting of the property bubble has left Spain with an estimated 650,000 unsold homes.

The performance of nationalists will be closely watched in this election. In March nationalists were ousted from power in the Basque Country for the first time since Spain's transition to democracy following the death of General Franco in 1975.

SWEDEN - 18 (19)

The ruling centre-right coalition is headed by Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt, who ended decades of Social Democrat rule in 2006.

But an election shock could be provided by the new Pirate Party. It claims a huge following among young people angered by the jail sentences handed down in April to four Swedes in a copyright infringement case. They ran the popular file-sharing website Pirate Bay.

Sweden is next in line to assume the EU's six-month rotating presidency, in July.

In the Spring 2009 Eurobarometer opinion poll, more than 70% of Swedish respondents said they did not know enough about the European Parliament. That was one of the highest scores in that category. Swedish turnout was just 38% in 2004.

But the debate about whether or not to join the eurozone has intensified, with a recent poll suggesting a narrow majority would support a new referendum on the euro.

UK - 72 (78)

The scandal over MPs' extravagant expenses claims has battered Labour and the main opposition parties at Westminster.

Public anger over the scandal could help smaller Eurosceptic parties, such as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and far-right British National Party (BNP). The BNP is yet to win a seat in Europe.

The local election results on 4 June were very bad for Labour, pushing them below the Liberal Democrats and far behind the Conservatives. The European results are widely expected to be even worse for Labour - they might even drop to third behind UKIP.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under intense pressure, after a spate of ministerial resignations in recent days and calls in some quarters for him to go.

UKIP, which wants the UK to leave the EU, came a surprise third in the 2004 European election, ahead of the Lib Dems and winning 12 seats. Voters fed up with mainstream politicians might protest by backing candidates seen as "anti the system". That might work for UKIP, despite previous expenses scandals involving some of its MEPs.

Yet the sour public mood may also keep turnout low. It was 38.5% in 2004. The Eurobarometer Spring 2009 survey found 30% of British respondents determined not to vote - by far the highest figure in the EU.

In a move likely to please Eurosceptics, the Conservatives plan to leave the main centre-right grouping in Europe, the EPP-ED, regarding it as too pro-integration.

The recession is another big issue in the campaign. Unemployment has risen to 2.2 million and the UK economy is forecast to shrink by more than 4% this year.

In Scotland, attention will focus on how the Scottish National Party (SNP) performs. It is currently in power in Edinburgh.

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
Flags at Strasbourg parliament March of the right
The BNP will not feel too lonely in Europe
Pol Nyup Rasmussen, Graham Watson, Wilfried Martens Bloc presidents on election results

Tristana Moore How people voted across Europe

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski Polish success for ruling party

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde French vote boosts Sarkozy's UMP

Steve Rosenberg Berlin voters celebrate at party

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