Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage: Cynical moves. Picture: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage: Cynical moves. Picture: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Now that the formerly smug centre-left and centre-right European Parliament parties have experienced the political equivalent of being mugged by gangs in a quiet cobbled street, the question is: what will they do next?

Populist far-right parties, such as Italy’s Lega, led by interior minister Matteo Salvini, and French arch right-winger Marine le Pen’s National Rally, crow from the rooftops about their considerable gains.

But support also surged for far-left parties, the Greens especially, driven by voters frightened of an environmental apocalypse.

To put that in perspective, the Greens will have about the same power in the 751-seat assembly as the far-right populists.

The Greens, backed by liberal MEPs, are likely to be crucial in helping pro-EU majorities to pass legislation.

On the other side of the road, the ascent of the far right has awakened terrors of more skinheads, more neo-Nazis, more anti-immigrant behaviour, more Islamophobia, more book burnings ...

However, the far-right parties are not a broad front.

Le Pen and Salvini are big fans of Russian President Vladimir Putin while other parties, such as Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party and far-right Scandinavian parties — which probably have longer memories about anything involving the word "Russia" — are not.

Getting consensus on anything from them is going to be entertaining to watch.

Over in the UK, the results were similar, with Labour and the Conservatives taking a drubbing from both the pro-EU Greens and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

On Farage’s victory, what more to say than it ranks down there in the swamp of political history’s most cynical moves ever: a fiercely fought election to win seats for the shortest time possible.