- Title: FRANCE: France hits the polls on final day of European elections
- Date: 25th May 2014
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (MAY 25, 2014) (REUTERS) PARISIAN WOMAN CASTING VOTE EXTERIOR OF TOWN HALL IN PARIS' TENTH ARRONDISSEMENT POLLING BOOTHS VOTER PICKING UP CANDIDATE LEAFLETS VARIOUS OF VOTER DELPHINE SELECTING LEAFLETS DELPHINE ENTERING POLLING BOOTH DELPHINE VOTING IN BOOTH VARIOUS OF DELPHINE CASTING VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (French) DELPHINE, SAYING: "I think it's a threat for everybody, so we must try to fight it, so that rightly liberty is preserved in all the countries which make up Europe." VOTER CASTING VOTE / BALLOT BOX VOTER JEAN COLLECTING LEAFLETS / LEAFLETS VOTER JEAN-PAUL ENTERING POLLING BOOTH BALLOT BOX JEAN-PAUL CASTING VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (French) JEAN-PAUL, SAYING: "It's precisely an issue which we need to fight against, that's why I came to vote today." VARIOUS OF VOTER JEAN CASTING VOTE (SOUNDBITE) (French) JEAN, SAYING: "Because on one hand there are a lot of people who do not come to vote, which seems to me a serious mistake, because if we do not vote I don't know what will happen, it's losing a little bit of their power if you do not vote, when already when we do not have a lot of it." VOTER CASTING VOTE, BALLOT BOX VARIOUS OF VOTING IN PROCESS
- Embargoed: 9th June 2014 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVADV93KM6IOLPGTWT7R90MREAZK
- Story Text: French voters took to the polls on the final day of European elections on Sunday (May 25), when the remaining 20 of the European Union's 28 member states cast their votes.
France, Germany, Spain and Poland are among the major EU member states voting on Sunday, representing the bulk of the 388 million Europeans eligible to cast ballots and elect the 751 deputies to sit in the European Parliament from 2014-2019.
After years of economic crisis, rising unemployment and poor growth, many Europeans have come to question the wisdom of the ever-closer EU integration and are expected to vote for Eurosceptic parties on the right or the left promising radical changes.
Opinion polls suggest at least a quarter of the seats in the parliament will go to anti-EU or protest groups, but at least 70 percent will remain with the four mainstream, pro-EU blocs: the center-left, center-right, liberals and Greens.
In France, Marine Le Pen's far right National Front, which wants to leave the euro and restore national border controls and trade barriers, is expected to record a historic victory. Final polls put her party neck-and-neck with the conservative UMP party, with President Francois Hollande's Socialists a distant third.
Parisian Delphine, who cast her vote in Paris' tenth arrondissement, was anxious about the National Front's expected success.
"I think it's a threat for everybody, so we must try to fight it, so that rightly liberty is preserved in all the countries which make up Europe," she said.
Britain's eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP), which wants to withdraw from the EU and impose tighter immigration controls, is also expected to win the vote. In the Netherlands, however, exit polls from Ipsos showed Geert Wilders' anti-EU and anti-Islam Freedom Party came a surprising fourth rather than first on Thursday with the majority voting for pro-EU parties. That has left centrists hoping for a wider surprise.
Voter Jean-Paul told Reuters Television he came to the polls to try to stop the Front National from gaining ground.
"It's precisely an issue which we need to fight against, that's why I came to vote today," he said.
Turnout across Europe is expected to fall again, dropping to just over 40 percent, marginally down from 43 percent in 2009. That would continue the trend of declining participation at every European election since the first direct poll was held in 1979. The expected low turnout was one of the main reasons Parisian Jean voted.
"There are a lot of people who do not come to vote, which seems to me a serious mistake, because if we do not vote I don't know what will happen, it's losing a little bit of their power if you do not vote, when already when we do not have a lot of it," he said.
The European Parliament has said it will announce preliminary results shortly after 2100 GMT on Sunday, although officials caution that Italy's decision to keep polls open until the same time may well delay any announcement.
Final results and the precise allotment of seats in parliament is expected to be announced by the end of Monday.
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