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Centre-right tightens grip on EU

European leaders pledged to steer the region through economic crisis after centre-right parties tightened their grip on the European Parliament in an election that drew a record low turnout of voters.

Although government parties were defeated in some of the countries worst hit by the global financial crisis, and the turnout was only about 43pc, the ruling centre-right parties did well in most of the big European economies.

The European People's Party -- which includes Fine Gael -- won most votes, the Greens made gains and the big losers were the Socialists, to which the Labour Party is allied. Fianna Fail is part of the Liberal group.

Far-right forces won parliamentary seats in some countries, but they and other fringe parties did less well than some pollsters had expected.

The passage of legislation through the assembly, which passes the majority of EU laws, is likely to be smooth -- including reforms of the financial regulatory system intended to prevent another global crisis.

"Overall, the results are an undeniable victory for those parties and candidates that support the European project and want to see the European Union delivering policy responses to their everyday concerns," EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said.

Mr Barroso vowed to tackle climate change decisively after the success of Green parties in countries including France, where a coalition of Green politicians, led by 1968 student radical Daniel Cohn-Bendit, won about 16pc of the vote.

The election was dominated by voters' fears over rising unemployment and the economic crisis.

"The most striking feature of the election results... is the fact that the centre-left parties across Europe, the Social Democrats and Socialists, have not been able to give a plausible answer, political answer, to the economic crisis," said Thomas Klau, of the European Council on Foreign relations.

"We haven't seen ... a far-right wave washing across the European continent. That has not happened."