Centre-right to retain EU grip after May: polling
The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) bloc is projected to retain its dominance in the European Parliament after the May elections, according to Europe Elects polling.
Often-incorrect estimates predict 177 EPP MEPs, marking a fall from the 215 seats obtained in 2014.
Fears of the populist right seizing control of the parliament are greatly exaggerated, said Piotr Buras of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Warsaw.
Buras said: “It will be a bump, but not a revolution. The visions of the populist right taking over control of the European Parliament are greatly exaggerated. According to research by the Adenauer Foundation, the extreme right, which is currently divided into two factions, plus the group of European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR), to which [Poland’s] Law and Justice belongs, will together have a total of 150 members.”
The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (SD) is expected to lose MEPs, down to 134. But in Spain, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden, parties within the left-of-centre bloc have consistently polled strongly.
The SD congress to be held in Lisbon on December 7-8 will probably choose a chair from between Marcos Šefčovič of Slovakia and Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands, both European commissioners.
Europe Elects predicts 98 seats for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (Alde), up from 68 MEPs in the current parliament.
Empowered by strong showings in elections in the German states of Hesse and Bavaria and in Belgium and Luxembourg, Europe’s Greens are threatening the traditional socialist parties on the centre-left.
But polling ahead of May looks poor for environmentally aware parties, particularly in the south and east of the European Union.
Greens have so far ruled out forming alliances with either socialists or French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrists, reducing their chances of making a significant impact on the European elections.
Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the Greens-European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament, said: “We are not going to be the socialists’ lifebuoy and environment politics are not going to save social democracy.”
Greens and their EFA partners, which are demanding full political independence or increased sovereignty, make up the fifth biggest parliamentary group, with 52 MEPs. “It will come close to the numbers we already have,” said Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP from the Netherlands.
In Luxembourg’s general election the Greens increased their share of the vote by 50 per cent, while in Belgium’s municipal elections, the Ecolo-Groen exceeded polling expectations.
“These victories have confirmed that we are a credible force for progressive voters who want change,” Eickhout told the media.
Clear green positions on divisive issues like migration, climate change, Brexit and European integration have helped environmental parties into regional coalition governments in Belgium and Germany.
The European Parliament is expecting a shakeup in May. Picture credit: Wikimedia