Wednesday

7th Dec 2016

Focus

Poll: Socialists to top EU elections, boost for far-right

Europe's socialists are set to top the polls in May's European elections, according to the first pan-EU election forecast.

The projections, released by Pollwatch Europe on Tuesday (19 February), give the parliament's centre-left group 221 out of 751 seats on 29 percent of the vote, up from the 194 seats it currently holds.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Europe's centre-left is set for an upset win in May's European elections, according to Pollwatch (Photo: European Parliament)

For their part, the centre-right EPP would drop to 202 seats from the 274 it currently holds on 27 percent of the vote across the bloc. If correct, it would be the first victory for the Socialists since 1994.

The poll is the first in a series of fortnightly forecasts by Pollwatch in the last three months before Europe's 400 million voters go to the ballot booths from 22-25 May.

The PollWatch statistical model takes opinion poll data from the EU's 28 member states and gives extra weighting to support for small and eurosceptic parties which, it argues, are usually underestimated in European election surveys.

Although the volatile political climate in many of the EU's countries and uncertainty about how many voters will turn out in May means that centre-right parties, which are currently in government in most of Europe, could still recover ground, the scale of their projected losses is set to come as a surprise.

Most analysts expect the EPP to still be the largest political force in parliament following May's elections, albeit with a diminished number of seats.

The forecast will also offer hope to Martin Schulz, the current president of the parliament, who is to be confirmed in March as the Socialist candidate to lead the next European Commission. May's elections will be the first to have a direct effect on who the next president of the EU executive will be, under provisions introduced by the Lisbon treaty.

Elsewhere, the poll projects a series of national victories for populist parties of the right and left in a number of countries. Marine Le Pen's National Front is forecast to top the poll in France with 20 seats, while Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement would win in Italy with 24 seats.

It also anticipates strong showings for parties in Belgium, Austria, Italy and Sweden and the Netherlands who have pledged to set up a new far-right political group with Le Pen, and are set to take a combined 38 seats.

In total, it projects that the number of so-called 'Non aligned' MEPs would swell to 92 after May's poll.

Crucially for the legislative programme of the new parliament, this would make it almost impossible for either of the major groups to form ideologically based left-right majorities between 2014-2019.

Meanwhile, in Greece, the leftist Syriza party is projected to take nine of the country's 21 seats.

Professor Simon Hix, who chairs VoteWatch Europe, commented that "the polarisation of the EP could force the centrist groups to work together in a 'grand coalition'."

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  3. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  5. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  6. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  7. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  8. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  9. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  10. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  11. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  12. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals