Italian royalty, Lithuania reality show host spice up EU election

6th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

From Finland to Portugal, some 375 million votes were expected to be cast before Sunday to elect 736 deputies for a five-year term.

Vilnius -- A Lithuanian reality TV host, an Italian prince and the socialite daughter of Romania's president are among a host of colourful characters who tried to pull Europe's apathetic voters to the polls.

From Finland to Portugal, some 375 million votes were expected to be cast before Sunday to elect 736 deputies for a five-year term.

And with a record low turnout, fringe candidates may stand a greater chance than in previous votes.

Italy's political scene welcomes royalty for the elections, with Prince Emanuele Filiberto standing as a candidate.

The 36-year-old grandson of Italy's last king is on the list of the centrist Christian UDC party in the country's north east.

The presence of the Italian Prime Minister himself will spice up the vote.

Silvio Berlusconi is the only leader of a big European country standing as a candidate, heading the list of his centre-right party.

His attempt to put forward several young beauties as Euro-candidates led to a public row with his wife, who is divorcing him complaining about his friendship with a young model.

In Lithuania, the National Revival Party has filled its ranks with celebrities, including a reality TV host and a pop singer.

The party enjoyed success in the Baltic state's general election last October and is now hoping to send some of the colourful characters in its ranks to the EU parliament.

Steered by Arunas Valinskas -- the 42-year-old producer and host of the Lithuanian version of the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" -- the party is used to the limelight.

Its frontman for the European elections is writer Saulius Stoma, 54, a controversial figure who spent seven months in jail for graft in the 1990s.

In Romania, Elena Basescu, the daughter of the country's president Traian Basescu, is standing as a candidate.

The 29-year-old, a part-time model better known for her interest in parties than politics, is hoping to be selected on an independent ticket.

In Germany, the Free Voters party has selected a controversial former member of the Christian Social Union party.

Gabriele Pauli sparked scandal in 2007 when she proposed marriages should automatically expire after seven years.

Her stance sets her on a collision course with another German party, the Christians Faithful to the Bible, who are calling for "more God" in politics, school and at home.

In the Netherlands, one of the more unusual groups is fighting "to give a voice" to animals who are the victims of human exploitation.

Led by a vegetarian Natasja Oerlemans, the Party for Animals aims to become a thorn in the side of the European parliament.

The oddly named Pirate Party in Sweden has little to do with dramatic battles on the high seas.

It aims to defend personal freedoms and criticises state intrusion in the private sphere, particularly on the internet.

Its poll ratings rocketed after four men behind the file-sharing website Pirate Bay were jailed in Sweden.

In Finland, former rally driver Ari Vatanen, first elected to the European parliament in France in 1999, returns to his home country as a candidate for the Finnish National Coalition Party.

He was first elected to the parliament in 1999 for the Finnish party even though he was living most of the time in France. In 2004 he was elected in France for President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party.

The racing star decided to run as a candidate for the Coalition Party this time after the UMP did not place him high enough up their list.

In Portugal, 86-year-old author Jose Saramago, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1998, is running for the second consecutive time on a left-wing list.


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