Wales politics

Turnout challenge for Plaid in European elections

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Media captionPlaid Cymru wants to stay in the EU

A low turnout will challenge Plaid Cymru's efforts to keep its seat in the European Parliament in May's elections, party leader Leanne Wood has said.

Launching Plaid's election campaign, she said Wales did well out of Europe and it "made sense" to stay in the EU.

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans came third at the last elections in 2009, behind the Conservatives and Labour, with the fourth seat going to UKIP.

Recent polls suggest UKIP is making up ground and closing the gap on Plaid.

Plaid is not opposed to an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

The pro-European party's long-term aim is for an independent Wales to join the EU as a member state in its own right.

Speaking at Cardiff docks, Ms Wood said: "There are challenges for us in this election, mainly down to low turnout.

"I think the debate around the EU and the future of Europe has been very narrow and confined by the forces of the right.

"Plaid Cymru's message is that Wales does well out of European co-operation, that it makes sense for us to remain as a partner within the European Union.

"Many jobs rely on the trade that we do with the EU and that's a debate that I'm hoping we can start to reflect upon and focus less on the right wing dog whistle debate that we've seen around Europe to date."

Ms Evans said: "We don't oppose a referendum - the problem is the kind of debate that's taking place at the moment is so negative and it's not happening in other parts of Europe."

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