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From bikinis to Nazi relatives, the weird ways our continental cousins are campaigning...

They’re a crazy bunch on that mainland.

WE HAVE SOME interesting characters and unique campaigning here in Ireland, but our friends in the heart of the continent aren’t shy about getting voters’ attention either.

The Danish Government has already come in for some criticism for their efforts in trying to get people to vote, but the European Parliament itself has gone for the edgy route. If perhaps a little less edgy than Voteman.

Sheepish attention seeking

European Parliament / YouTube

If getting noticed is a measure of advertising success, then the EU’s campaign to get first-time voters fired up about the elections has hit the mark.

In a bizarre video titled “And then came a lot of sheep”, a young, first-time voter attempts to cast his ballot before being flung out of a building window, suffering a near-miss with passing traffic only to be inexplicably trampled by a flock of sheep. All to a throbbing 1980s synth-based soundtrack.

The story has a happy ending: the young voter’s crisp, white shirt emerges from the experience unscathed. With the sheep still fresh in the viewer’s mind, this question appears on the screen: “What will your first time be like?”

Selective editing in Greece

Obama US Greece President Barack Obama meets with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in the Oval Office. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

What did US President Barack Obama say about Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras?

This is the question behind the latest war of words in Greece’s election campaign, where the main opposition radical leftist Syriza party has accused Samaras’s New Democracy conservatives of doctoring Obama’s comments for a TV commercial.

In a party spot talking up Samaras’s fiscal reform efforts, Obama is shown telling the premier during a recent White House visit: “The Greek people see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

However, the full clip of the speech reveals that Obama had said that Samaras “wants to make sure that the Greek people see a light at the end of the tunnel” — not quite the ringing endorsement of the original.

“This shows how far (the government) is prepared to go to create a false image of (economic) growth,” Syriza charged.

Revenge porn in Malta 

A Maltese politician has pulled out of the election after being convicted of sharing pornographic material involving his former boyfriend during an acrimonious break-up.

Labour MEP candidate Cyrus Engerer received a suspended jail sentence of two years and announced a day later that he would not be running.

The 32-year-old Engerer, a former deputy mayor of the city of Tas-Sliema, is one of Malta’s few openly gay politicians and frequently criticised the conservative positions of the Nationalist Party, which he left in 2011 to join Labour.

The case is a headache for the island’s Electoral Commission as all the ballots will now have to be re-printed at taxpayers’ expense.

Nazi relatives in Sweden

SSU Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Ungdomsförbund / YouTube

The challenge of getting young, first-time voters to the polling booths has prompted the production of online information videos ranging from the childish to the downright weird. Now, the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League is trying a different tack: history.

In a well-produced video, a man sitting at a desk flicks through old photos of soldiers sporting Hitler-like moustaches. The voiceover says “we must never forget our past, no matter how much it hurts, because when we forget, history will repeat itself.”

The video goes on to say that historical amnesia appears to be underway, because “all over Europe, far-right parties are gaining ground.” The speaker then reveals himself to be Rainer Hoess, the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, commander of the notorius Auschwitz concentration camp.

The take-home message is hard to miss: a failure to vote is a only a boon for the extremists.

Bikinis in Italy

A possibly NSFW bikini shot of Paola Bacchiddu, a spokeswoman in Italy for far-left candidate Alexis Tsipras, drew equal amounts of praise and criticism on her Facebook page on Sunday.

“Ciao. The election campaign has begun and I will use any means possible”, read the caption on a picture of Bacchiddu posing with her shapely backside turned to the camera.

The PR woman is hoping for more than just a few raised eyebrows with Tsipras List currently trailing at about 3.3 per cent in Italy, according to one recent opinion poll.

Conservatives outpacing socialists

pollwatch Pollwatch2014 Pollwatch2014

Latest forecasts see Europe’s conservative parties racing ahead of the socialists despite anger over EU austerity at for a new 751-seat European Parliament.

A PollWatch2014 survey predicts 216 seats for the right-wing European People’s Party (EPP), compared to 205 for the Socialists (S&D), 63 for the centrists, 49 for the far-left GUE group and 41 for the Greens.

The conservative parties have gained ground in Spain, Romania and Poland, while the Socialists have slipped in opinion polls in France and Poland.

In Greece, which has borne the brunt of EU-imposed belt-tightening measures, the leftwing Syriza is ahead of the conservative party led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, both at just over 20 per cent, with neo-Nazis on nine percent.

Immigrants against immigration in Italy


A candidate from Italy’s Northern League party has recruited five immigrants from Angola, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and North Africa for a video commercial to dissuade their compatriots from trying to reach Italy.

“Don’t come to Italy to go hungry,” says the Angolan man, who like the other four speaks his native language and is not named. The Indian man says: “Italy cannot offer anything to anyone any more”. The candidate, Angelo Ciocca, says at the end of the commercial that he wants to “counteract illegal immigration”.

Speaking to the La Stampa daily, Ciocca said the ad was “not a provocation but a public service”. The migrants were not actors, he said, but were selected at a “casting” in Milan and received “50 euros each” for expenses.

Finns voting in Australia

Finland’s government is opening advance voting in just a few days for citizens stranded on the other side of the globe in Australia or New Zealand, as presumably are others.

Voting will be possible in Australia for three days from May 14-16 but only on 14 May in New Zealand and even then some may have to travel far as each country has only one venue to cast a ballot, in Canberra or Auckland.

Europewide moratorium

Germany European Elections Bavarian highlanders in their regional Chiemgau array Sunday best five years ago. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

 Can electoral patterns in one country influence voter behaviour in another? The European Commission is not taking any chances and has warned member states not to publish results until all polling is over on 21.00 GMT on 25 May.

According to Brussels newspaper European Voice, the Commission has reminded countries going to the polls early in the four-day election period, from May 22-25, to keep mum until all voters across the 28 member state have had their say.

The problem arose in 2009, when The Netherlands — which traditionally holds its elections on the first day — published provisional results before most other states had voted.

Yet susceptible citizens may have other spoilers to contend with, exit polls will appear before many Europeans have cast their ballot.

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom go to the polls on 22 May, Ireland and the Czech Republic on 23, in Latvia, Malta and Slovakia it will be 24 May and in the remaining EU countries the date is 25 May.

- Compiled by Rónán Duffy with reporting from © – AFP 2014

Read: EU Candidate Damon Matthew Wise says he’s not in it for money or junkets >

Read: On The Trail: 7 odd, weird and wonderful things from Election 2014 >

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