EPP lead diminishes, ECR and G/EFA see gains
No European Union member state held national elections during November, but that has not stopped voting behaviour of citizens from fluctuating. Several European Parliament groups saw their support fluctuate much more than during October. Additionally, major events affecting European Politics have taken place.
Changes in Germany as centre-right EPP continue downward slide
Angela Merkel, one of the heavyweight politicians and national leaders in the EU, announced her resignation from the leadership of her party the Christian Democratic Union (EPP) on October 29th. Alongside this, Horst Seehofer announced that he would not choose to seek re-election as the leader of CDU’s sister party, the Christian Social Union. However, both leaders would like to retain their seats in the current government until 2021.
Perhaps due to these changes in leadership, the slow decline of Germany’s EPP parties has stalled. Regardless, this was not enough to offset the continuous downward slide of their projected seats in the European Parliament according to Europe Elects’ November projection. The EPP, a centre-right grouping of MEPs, is steadily losing ground and the newest projection predicts the EPP to lose five more seats than the previous month’s projection. In total, the EPP is predicted to reach 172 seats out of 705, a loss of 49 seats compared to the elections of 2014.
Despite Brexit centre-left S&D and national conservative ECR see gains
Strong candidates for parties picking up the seats EPP lost compared to October 2018 are the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the current second largest group in the European Parliament, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D). Both S&D and ECR are set to lose a proportion of their seats following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, as the UK will no longer return MEPs to Brussels. The ECR will suffer a loss of 19 seats due to Brexit removing the British Conservative Party from their group. Likewise, the S&D will lose the UK Labour Party’s 20 seats.
Both groups, ECR and S&D, also see gains compared with our October projection. While the S&D bounces up only an amount of two projected seats (the group has consistently remained under 140 seats in projections for quite some time), the ECR, on the other hand, continues its significant rise with five more projected seats in November than in October. ECR is currently projected to receive 54 seats out of 705, only 16 less than the 70 they received in 2014. Meanwhile, S&D overall seat winnings are set to drop from 191 to 136.
Green national success set to impact transnational politics
The latter half of October brought major triumphs for green parties across the European Union. Last month we saw Green parties achieve record highs in local elections in Belgium and regional elections in Bavaria and Luxembourg. In November’s projection, European Parliament group Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA) is set to gain five more seats than they were projected to gain a month ago, showing that these strong national performances may also have an impact on pan-European politics. Currently they are projected to obtain 45 seats.
The Greens have been on consistent upwards trajectory on a European level since last spring, bucking a temporary negative trend. Despite the recent uptick in support and projected seats, G/EFA is still five seats behind their result in 2014 elections, which was 50 seats. It is worth mentioning, however, that G/EFA group will lose six seats as a result of Brexit, losing MEPs from the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.
All four of the European Parliament groups mentioned above, EPP, S&D, ECR and G/EFA, are still sitting below their results of 2014. Who, then, is gaining?
Emmanuel Macron, while struggling nationally, still an asset for centrist ALDE
This month’s projection yielded no change in any direction for the centrists in the European Parliament; they are projected to obtain the same amount of seats – 98 – as they did last month. According to the latest polling in France, Marine Le Pen’s party, Rassemblement National (ENF), has overtaken Emmanuel Macron’s coalition of La République En Marche (LREM-ALDE) and Mouvement Démocrate (MD-ALDE) in support. Nevertheless, every seat that Macron’s LREM manages to clinch is a net gain for ALDE.
The up to 20 seats which LREM would gain, go a long way in explaining where ALDE’s current 31-seat projected gain is coming from. ALDE is currently projected to become the biggest gainer in upcoming European Parliamentary elections.
GUE/NGL and ENF set to gain on 2014
One would be hard-pressed to find other mainstream ideologies as far from each other as European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) and
Right-wing ENF’s main components are the French Le Pen-led Rassemblement National and Italian Lega Nord. While November’s projection shows no change for ENF compared to last month, they are still set to gain 24 seats compared to 2014. A large proportion of this gain can
Left-wing GUE/NGL in November’s projection is predicted to gain one seat less than in October. In total, however, they are currently set to gain eight seats – rising from 52 to 60 – when compared to the 2014 elections.
Right-wing EFDD maintains support, despite
loss of key party
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is a member of the EFDD group in European Parliament and currently has 16 MEPs. As we all know by now, the United Kingdom is going to have its very own ‘independence party’ in form of Brexit (or so Brexiteers say). This means that a third of the 48 seats EFDD obtained in 2014 elections are going to be lost, as UKIP achieve their party’s main goal. However, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD-EFDD) in Germany has seen a huge increase in support during the last five years, meaning that AfD would make up for the seats vacated by UKIP’s departure, hence the identical seat projection to their 2014 result.
Julius is a member of the Europe Elects team, working as our Head of Communications