Author: Dubravka Voloder
The European Parliament elections, which begin on Thursday, have caused fierce debate in many countries between those that are anti-immigration and those that are not.
It has encouraged some people to take to the streets to demonstrate against far-right groups and their agendas, including in the UK, where milkshakes have been thrown at those standing, including Tommy Robinson and Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage.
The EU poll is one election – but 28 contests will be held in 28 member countries, where about 374 million people are eligible to elect a parliament for a five-year term.
In 2014, voter turnout sank to a new low of 42 per cent, so the EU has lobbied hard this time around with emotive ads (see video at top of article) encouraging people to have their say.
Who is leading the far-right charge?
Some far-right groups have been presenting themselves as a united front against centrist and established parties. Chief among them is Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini.
As part of his EU parliament campaign, Mr Silvani recently urged a vote for his party, tweeting: “To defend the borders and the safety of our children”.
He invited other right-wing leaders, including Marine Le Pen of the French National Rally Party, to Milan recently to show a united front, and featured others heavily on his popular Twitter account, including Dutch politician Geert Wilders who believes that all Muslim immigration to his country should be stopped.
Immigration is a key issue
While the far-right parties have policy differences and a very strong focus on national identities, what unites them is their anti-immigration stance. They became more popular with some voters off the back of the Syrian crisis and the resulting influx of refugees.
Hungary’s prime minister Victor Orban launched his party’s campaign for the European elections with a seven-point plan against immigration.