By Bruce Stokes, Director, Global Economic Program, Pew Research Center

Special to CNN

Europe’s voters have spoken – and what they had to say has shaken capitals across the continent as far right and some far left parties made significant gains in elections to the European parliament.

The results did not come as a complete surprise – there was widespread apprehension in Brussels ahead of the polls over the public’s mood and its implications for both the future direction of Europe and for national politics. Recent public opinion surveys had indicated disgruntlement among electorates in the wake of years of economic stress, with growing antagonism toward immigration and minorities.

Ironically, this electoral backlash came despite a slight rebound in positive economic sentiment in the region, and despite some polling indicating somewhat more favorable views toward the European Union as an institution.

Read more at CNN’s Global Public Square blog