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EU: The Right Keeps Rising

Europe Elects’ European Parliament election projection for October 2019 paints a picture of an EU electorate shifting to the right. Month-on-month, the only party groups making seat gains are the national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). Meanwhile, the momentum of liberal Renew Europe (RE) has slowed, the centre-left Progressive Alliance and Socialists & Democrats (S&D) remains below its May election result, as does the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA). The only realistic majority coalition using our seat allocation remains a broad-church one between EPP, RE and S&D.

Here is a summary of the month’s biggest winners and losers:


European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) +5 seats

The growth of the national-conservative party group ECR continues. This month’s projection assigns it 92 seats, which is a record amount in an EU28 scenario.

The main factor contributing to ECR’s growth is the continued surge of the Conservative Party in the UK in opinion polls, which was kick-started by Boris Johnson being elected as leader of the party, and subsequently Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in July this year. We project that it would now secure 30 seats in the European Parliament, which is 27 seats above the May 2019 election result, and five more than in our September projection. It is also the biggest individual party in our model. Most of this growth has been at the expense of the Brexit Party, which performed extraordinarily well in May’s election in what was a campaign dominated by the issue of the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

Another ECR success story is the Spanish VOX. The party has seen its support increase steadily throughout the country’s third election campaign of 2019 and is the only party other than the UK Conservative Party to gain more than one seat month-on-month, going from 4 to 6 projected seats. Italian Brothers of Italy (FdI) and the Sweden Democrats (SD) also contribute to the overall ECR surge.

It should be noted that ECR’s gains are dampened somewhat by losses on the part of the Family Party in Germany (Familienpartei Deutschlands) and the Civic Democratic Party of the Czech Republic (ODS).

European People’s Party  (EPP) +5 seats

It speaks to the dominant position of the centre-right European People’s Party that it managed to be the biggest net loser of seats in this year’s parliamentary election while still remaining the biggest party group. This is yet to change, even after a period of EU-wide retreat in public support left it with its lowest seat projection since 2014 in August. In fact, the party group’s fortune has now turned as it sees a net gain of seats between September and October, increasing the gap to the second biggest party group – the centre-left Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D).

The EPP growth in October was truly a team effort, with one seat each being won by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, the People’s Party (PP) of Spain, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) of Portugal, Bulgarian GERB, Fine Gael (FG) of Ireland, and New Slovenia (NSi). Their combined success was able to mitigate the losses of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Unity Party (JV) of Latvia.


Renew Europe (RE) -3 seats

The biggest net loser of seats month-to-month in our October projection is the liberal party group Renew Europe (RE), that loses 3 of its seats. Even so, the 115 seats we predict it would have secured in an October 31 election is still more than it secured in the recent election and marks the third-highest number projected since we started running our projection modelling in 2014. Out of the 32 RE parties of the group, 24 are polling at similar or higher levels than they did in May.

In short, RE’s October results can be seen as a normalization rather than a dramatic decline. That being said, last month’s slowdown seems to be continent-wide, as not a single of its liberal member parties made seat gains. It should also worry the group that two of the continents biggest liberal parties, the Liberal Democrats in the UK and the Citizens Party (Cs) in Spain, are retracting following historic highs, due in part to snap election campaigns benefitting the large mainstream parties in both countries.

Non-Inscrits (NI) -2 seats

October saw the negative trend for the Non-Inscrits (NI) continue. The group includes MEPs belonging to parties not aligned with a formalized group, either because they act independently or do not hold the minimum amount of seats required to form one.

After the election in May, 57 MEPs belonged to the group, with a great majority of them representing two highly successful parties: the Italian Five Star Movement (M5S) and the British Brexit Party. More than half belonged to the Brexit Party, which also became the biggest single party in parliament, but its strength has since proven to be unsustainable, as it is now the biggest net loser since the EU election, dropping from 29 to just six seats in our new projection.  The fortune of the Five Star Movement has been more stable – even if it has lost one of the two seats it gained throughout Italy’s governmental crisis in August, it remains above its EU election result. It is only one other NI-party, the Hungarian Jobbik, that can say the same.

European United Left–Nordic Green Left  (GUE/NGL) -2 seats

While the left-wing European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group is still performing slightly above its election result, it is on a downward trend both long-term and short-term. Remarkably, the group’s performance in May’s election was way worse than what we predicted, as it got fewer seats than in any of our projections in the five years leading up to it. It now loses two seats month-on-month, equalling the lowest amount of seats ever in our projection – 46.

The underperformers in October were Unidas Podemos (UP) in Spain, the Dutch Socialist Party (SP), Course of Freedom of Greece and Irish Sinn Féin (SF). Their losses were offset somewhat by the newly formed MeRa25, or European Realistic Disobedience Front, in Greece as well as German Die Linke that has grown significantly since May. Die Linke is allocated three more seats in our October projection compared to this year’s election and has now overtaken Unidos Podemos as the biggest party in the group.

Featured title picture: Marine Le Pen
Photo credit: Rémi Noyon on Flickr with Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 4.0)

This text has been edited by Tobias Gerhard Schminke.