EU elections: Europeans head to polls in last day of voting as UK awaits results
26 May 2019, 01:18 | Updated: 26 May 2019, 15:29
Europeans are voting in the final day of the EU's parliament elections, as the UK waits to see which of its candidates have been successful.
Germany, France, Spain and Italy are among 21 countries where voters go to the polls today after voting concluded in seven nations, including the UK.
The results will be announced on Sunday evening when the last polling station closes on the continent at 10pm UK time.
The populist right-wing party of Italian deputy premier Matteo Salvini may pip the Christian Democrats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to become the biggest single party in the 751-seat chamber.
Mr Salvini - Italy's anti-migrant, anti-Islam interior minister - has been campaigning hard to boost the League to become the number one party in Italy and possibly Europe.
For Mrs Merkel's party, it is the first test for new leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer since Germany's long-time chancellor gave up her party's leadership last year.
Meanwhile, France is looking at an epic battle between pro-EU centrist President Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration, far-right flagbearer Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament vote.
A loss for Mr Macron's Republic on the Move party would cripple the French leader's grand ambitions for a more united Europe.
He wants EU countries to share budgets and soldiers and work even more closely together to keep Europe globally relevant and prevent conflict.
Right-wing populist parties are expected to bolster the nationalist representation in the house, which would reduce the influence of traditional pro-EU parties.
The result would put a potential brake on the EU's collective action in economic and foreign policy.
Prime Minister Theresa May had repeatedly promised she would take Britain out of the EU before the elections, but her failure to get her Brexit deal through meant the UK voted in the elections on Thursday.
Both the Conservatives and Labour are braced for a backlash from voters over Brexit, while Nigel Farage's Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats are expected to pick up votes.
:: Sky News will being airing a special EU election programme from 9pm to 2am.
:: Check the website and app for live updates as all of the results are announced.
The elections have come as Europeans are preparing to remember events that shaped the bloc.
It is 75 years since Americans landed in France to defeat Nazi Germany, and since Russian forces let the Germans crush a Polish bid for freedom.
In November, Europeans will also be marking 30 years since Germans smashed the Berlin Wall to reunite east and west Europe.
But memories of wars have not sufficed to build faith in a united future.
Sara Hobolt, professor of European politics at the London School of Economics, told Sky News: "Less is at stake in European elections than in national ones.
"As a result, voters are more likely to use them as protest votes to signal their dissatisfaction with their national government and to vote for parties with more extreme and more eurosceptic positions.
"Almost 30% of members of the current Parliament (MEPs) can be described as eurosceptic."
Elected MEPs will sit in the new parliament from the beginning of July but it is uncertain how long UK representatives will sit because of the new Brexit deadline of 31 October.
The results will usher in weeks of bargaining among parties to form a stable majority in the parliament, and among national leaders to choose successors to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and other top EU officials.
Many expect a clash as early as Tuesday, when leaders meeting in Brussels are likely to snub parliament's demands that one of the newly elected politicians should run the EU executive.