Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU

Lawmakers in Poland adopted a controversial reform of the Supreme Court, despite warnings from the EU that the move could trigger a sanction procedure over the rule of law.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

Opinion

Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive

Candidates from all political families should be presenting their vision on where the Union should be headed. European socialists want to keep the Spitzenkandidat procedure for future elections.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  2. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  3. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  5. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  6. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  7. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  8. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  9. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices
  11. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  12. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law