Participation slumped to an estimated 43 per cent, the lowest level since European elections began 30 years ago in 1979, as 213 million out of 375 million voters across the EU stayed at home.
"It does affect the legitimacy of the EU," admitted Margot Wallstrom, the European Commission vice-president.
Governments in Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Greece and Ireland, all countries hit hard by the economic crisis, were punished by angry voters.
Support for centre-Left parties and governments crashed across the EU as fringe parties, not the Socialists, picked up protest votes while the centre-Right weathered the storm.
As polling stations closed on Sunday night, estimates put mainstream centre-Right parties to be the biggest group with control of up to 276 seats out of 736 in the European Parliament.
Anti-immigrant and far-right groups made significant gains in the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Slovakia and Finland. ...