Continued from page 1

Hans-Peter Bartels - a member of parliament from the center-left Social Democratic Party that will challenge Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union in 2013 federal elections - expressed dismay at the rise of the Pirates, whom he calls “laptop-Marxists.”

“They are a reaction to what the mainstream parties are offering,” Mr. Meyer said.

The far left and right also are affecting the campaigns of mainstream candidates.

Since the first round in the French presidential election, Mr. Sarkozy has tilted even more to the right to try to win over Ms. Le Pen’s voters. Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande said last week that he would not revoke France’s law banning full-face veils worn by some Muslim women, long an issue for the right.

In Greece, the far-right Independent Greeks, the anti-bailout and anti-immigration party, have made massive gains in a short time. This may serve to shift the center further to the right.

This could be bad news for the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Those institutions want to be sure that any ruling coalition in Greece has the political support to comply with stringent loan requirements.

“The question is not whether the two main parties are going to form a government or not. It’s whether they are going to have the political legitimacy to actually implement these things on a day-to-day basis,” Mr. Gerodimos said.

Meanwhile, the EU is worried that the success of minor parties is linked to rising anti-EU sentiment, according to European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly.

Pro-EU forces are alarmed that this trend means more nationalism and protectionism, not a united Europe.

“Politically speaking,” Mr. Meyer said, “this is the fallout from the economic crisis that haunted us now in different guises for the last five years.”