13th Aug 2020

Centre-right losing ground in EU parliament

  • The survey called the Liberal group the "kingmaker" of the EU parliament (Photo: European Parliament)

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament is losing ground despite winning the last elections, a new study of voting patterns says.

The EPP has been on the winning side in parliament 93 percent of the time, voting Yes or No when the majority of MEPs voted Yes or No, in the 792 votes that took place in the past year, the survey, carried out by academics in the VoteWatch project, said.

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The level is the same as in the assembly's previous sitting. But in the meantime, the Liberal group has moved into first place (97%) while the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group has gone up from 90 percent to 92 percent.

The developments come despite the fact the EPP was the biggest winner in last year's elections.

The group won 265 seats compared to 268 last time around. But it would have had 290 seats if the British Conservatives had not walked away to form a new anti-federalist grouping in the chamber. The S&D lost 16 seats last year and the Liberals lost three.

The erosion of EPP power has come about because the Liberal group, called the parliament's "kingmakers" by VoteWatch, is siding more often with the S&D.

The centre-left Liberal-S&D coalition has made its mark the most forcefully in the budget, environment and civil liberties areas. But the "kingmakers" tend to vote with the EPP on economics, industry, trade and development.

The VoteWatch survey brought to light a number of other interesting facts about the EU assembly.

While group whips have been doing their best to increase internal discipline, the political families still face problems in keeping their national delegations in line.

In the EPP, Belgian, Greek and Swedish MEPs are the most unruly, while German and Italian deputies are more likely to toe the line. The S&D for its part has trouble with British, Danish and Swedish members. The Liberals face problems with French and Irish MEPs. Overall, agriculture is the most divisive subject.

MEPs' attendance rates have gone up across the board, except for parties that faced domestic elections in the past 12 months. Italian MEPs have tripled their rate so far, but are still bottom of the class, together with Romania and the UK.

Meanwhile, MEPs on the fringes of parliament, in the eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy group and in the "non-aligned" basket - those MEPs who are not sufficiently numerous to form a group of their own - are the biggest thorn in the side of the Council of Ministers and European Commission.

Non-aligned MEPs on average put 24 questions per member to the other EU institutions over the past year, compared to around 10 questions by EPP deputies and eight by the S&D.

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