Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Big groups to retain power in EU parliament

The balance of power in the European Parliament would stay broadly the same if elections were held today, national polls indicate. The mainstream parties would lose some ground, while far left and far right parties would gain.

The centre-right EPP-ED group would fall from 284 seats to around 265. The centre-left PES faction would drop from 215 to about 195 and the liberal ALDE group would dip from 103 to around 95.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Opinion polls ahead of EU elections have in the past underplayed the appeal of radical and eurosceptic groups (Photo: wikipedia)

The results come from extrapolating 19 national opinion polls published in January and February, in the early convulsions of the financial crisis.

The smaller groups - the far-left GUE-NGL, the Greens, the right-wing UEN and the eurosceptic IND/DEM - are harder to call because they consist of more fringe party and independent members, many of which don't show up on national surveys.

Despite this, polls suggest GUE-NGL would become the fourth largest faction, with about 40 seats, followed by the Greens and UEN on 35 each.

The mix would leave some 70 seats to be contested out of a total of 736. Far-right groups are poised to scoop at least 20. The new anti-Lisbon treaty Libertas party is also likely to do well and may put IND/DEM out of business. Libertas' French branch alone is set to take four seats.

Shifting allegiances may complicate the picture. The UK Conservative party has promised to leave the EPP-ED and may form a new group with the Czech centre-right ODS party.

Meanwhile, Italian right-wing party Alleanza Nationale is leaving UEN for the EPP-ED-linked Il Popolo della Liberta party of Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Putting all this together, the new parliament could see EPP-ED on around 235, PES with 200, ALDE on 90, GUE-NGL with 40, the new British Conservative-led group on 40, the Greens with 35 and UEN just above 25. There could also be a new far-right or a new eurosceptic group. To form a political 'family' in the parliament, a grouping must have a minimum of 25 MEPs from at least seven countries.

"Opinion polls in previous European elections (particularly with four months to go) have tended to slightly over-estimate support for governing parties and large opposition parties, and to underestimate support for small extreme parties, particularly anti-European movements," London School of Economics expert Simon Hix said.

Hurricane warning

The elections will take place between 4 and 7 June. With banks wobbling, factories closing and people protesting on the streets, the economic crisis is likely to cause political hurricanes in Europe in the run-up to the vote.

Last week, the Latvian government fell.

National opinion polls are a crude way of forecasting EU elections, however. The EU vote is largely based on list systems, where parties put out nationwide or near-nationwide lists of MEPs for voters to choose from, instead of choosing between individuals in local constituencies. Most of these lists are not yet out.

EU elections also tend to favour radical parties because of low turnout and the perception that the European Parliament has little impact on daily life. A European Commission survey in January showed that just 34 percent of people intend to vote.

Radical parties do well under low turnout circumstances as their highly-motivated supporters go to the urn in proportionally greater numbers than mainstream voters. The air of levity makes people happier to make protest votes, while still supporting a 'safe pair of hands' in national politics.

Zooming in

Zooming in on some of the changes since 2004, EPP-ED parties have surged in the UK, Italy and Poland but have suffered in Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece and Hungary. A February corruption scandal in Spain's centre-right Partido Popular could also hurt.

PES parties have gained ground in Sweden, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But French socialists look to be down by 13 seats. The Italian centre-left Partito Democratico, which sends MEPs to both PES and ALDE, is in disarray after its leader, Walter Veltroni, resigned last week.

Liberals are on the up in Germany and France. But the fate of the Polish liberal delegation - six MEPs from tiny parties - remains unclear until the Polish lists come out.

The far-left has inched forward in Germany, France, Greece and Portugal, while holding its ground in the rest of Europe, except in the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, far right supporters are one the rise. The Dutch anti-Islam PVV group is set to scoop five seats. France's admittedly divided Front National another five and Austria's nationalist FPO and BZO are together likely to send five between them as well.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name

Sergei Magnitsky gave his life to fighting corruption. The least we can do is to honour his sacrifice in the name of the legislation that his heroism inspired.

Opinion

All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Russia is trying to foment a clash between Hungary and Ukraine over the territory of Zakarpattia in a potential crisis overlooked by EU leaders.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us