UK General Election Results: Europe Reacts


As the aftermath of last night's UK general election continues to grip the British media, pundits across Europe have also been keeping a keen eye on Westminster over the last 24 hours.

In an unexpected turn of events, David Cameron's Conservative party won the necessary 326 seats required to form a majority government, despite the fact the main pollsters predicted that the most likely result would be a hung parliament. Both Labour lead Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrats leader, and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have since resigned.

Germany's highly influential liberal weekly Der Spiegel ran the headline "Cameron wins: Bad news for Europe," warning that the rise of Ukip and the prominence of eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers might dictate the debate on Europe. With a referendum on the UK's membership to the EU set to be held by 2017, Spiegel warns the result could be "fatal" for europhiles.

Centre-right German national daily Die Welt, also warned about the possibility of a Brexit with the Tories in a majority government, quoting vice president of the EU Parliament, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff in saying "Britain's future in the EU is on a knife's edge".

In France, leftist national daily Le Monde focused on the rise of the "anti-European" UK Independence Party (Ukip). The paper ran the headline "Ukip, the third political force at the ballots but not in Westminster," adding that Ukip's anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric "largely defined the election".

Meanwhile French conservative daily Le Figaro focused on Miliband's "triple defeat" in the election, highlighting that not only did he win fewer seats than the Tories but also that his key allies, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander, were unseated.

The Irish Times hailed a "stunning" Tory triumph and believes that the eight seats held by the Democratic Unionist Party give Cameron "eight reasons to lift the phone" and strike a deal with DUP leader Peter Robinson.

In Spain much of today's press coverage focuses on the Scottish National Party (SNP)'s stunning sweep to victory in Scotland. This is perhaps not all that surprising considering Spain's own Catalan independence movement openly said their own controversial plebiscite on splitting from Spain was inspired by the SNP-backed independence referendum.

Conservative Spanish paper ABC, which has consistently warned about the dangers of Catalan and Basque independence, branded the SNP "The third force in the British parliament" in their election headline.

Leftist Catalan broadsheet La Vanguardia focused on the seemingly aspirational tale of the SNP's 20-year-old candidate Mhairi Black, who has taken Labour heavyweight Douglas Alexander's Paisley seat. Their headline read: "Mhairi Black, the youngest British parliamentarian since the 17th century", and Spain's biggest newspaper El Pais also ran an interview with Black as one of their top stories today.

In Russia, coverage of the UK election largely took a back seat to domestic news, most notably the upcoming May 9 Victory Day march. However, centrist daily newspaper Kommersant, which is owned by Arsenal FC shareholder Alisher Usmanov, reported that Russian officials were watching the election, lamenting the "cooling" relations between the UK and Russia.

Russian president Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov, told the paper that "Russia is interested in good relations with and cooperation with all countries including Great Britain" adding that the "cooling" in relations "has not been by Russia's initiative."

Pro-Kremlin daily Komsomolskaya Pravda merely reported that David Cameron had "saved his seat," unceremoniously describing the prime minister as a politician who "often makes very radical remarks about our country." Cameron has been a backer of increasing economic sanctions on Russia over the last year, criticising Putin's annexation of Crimea.