The EU elections
- creeping loss of national sovereignty to the EU;
- the belligerence, arrogance, and violence of Muslim minorities, and the excessive leniency of the authorities toward them;
- Third World immigration, especially Muslim; most European countries are already densely populated and have not historically invited and assimilated large-scale immigration as the US has.
The last two points are less of an issue in the newer, poorer eastern member states, but in those countries there is special concern about the impact of the recession and discriminatory treatment by the richer western members. The recession and governments' handling of it, of course, is an issue everywhere. The point is that people are angry, especially since mainstream political parties refuse to talk about or even acknowledge the three long-standing problems cited above -- there is an establishment consensus that the EU should be supported and the Islamic elephant in the room should be politely ignored, whatever the voters think.
So the thing to watch is how well parties outside the mainstream do, since this is where the protest votes will be cast. Some of these fringe parties are genuinely extremist: xenophobic, thuggish, racist, with barely-concealed anti-Semitic roots and a distinct stench of fascism about them. Others are genuine populist vehicles for anger about the EU and/or Islam. It can be hard for outsiders to tell the difference, since the European mainstream media are very quick to label parties of either type as "far-right", "racist", etc. (I can't place Hungary's Jobbik party, for example). The populists tend to embrace modern European values; the assassinated Dutch anti-Islam firebrand Pim Fortuyn, for example, was gay and sup-ported his country's liberal drug laws -- an unlikely "far-rightist", though he was still called that. (It would be more accurate to call Europe's Muslim agitators "far-right" -- as I've said before, it is they who are the true European equivalent of our Christian Right.)
In Britain, the EU country whose politics I know the best, protest voters have a clear choice. The BNP (British National Party) is clearly extremist and xenophobic (and economically autarkist). The UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) is a one-issue party dedicated to getting Britain out of the EU, which surely has a key asset in its blunt-speaking leader, Nigel Farage. Protest voting seems likely to be especially widespread in Britain because of the recent scandal over politicians' grotesque abuses of their expense-reimbursement system, which has triggered massive public anger and discredited all three mainstream parties; popular support for the Labour party, which is currently in office, has actually fallen below that of the UKIP in some polls.
The goal is to force the mainstream parties to address the issues people actually care about, so that there will be something worth voting for in the real national elections (Britain, for example, must hold a national election sometime between now and June 2010). The bigger the protest vote, the greater the chance of success. Europe suffers from a democracy deficit which its mainstream politicians flatly refuse to correct; the voters, therefore, must act to bring them to heel.