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European Parliament Projection: The EU Parliament Post-Brexit

Europe Elects produces every month a projection on how voters in the European Union would vote should there be an EU Parliament election today. When comparing the seats and the popular vote projected in this article, we contrasted them to the EU27 scenario—meaning we excluded the United Kingdom.

Our projection for February 2020 shows that the centre-right EPP Group in the European Parliament would remain the largest bloc in the assembly, with 182 out of 705 seats post-Brexit and a popular vote share of 22.8%. In the EU election last May—discounting the United Kingdom and adding the post-Brexit MEPs around the EU—the EPP finished with 187 of seats and a popular vote share of 22.6%. The EPP includes parties like the German CDU, the Italian Forza Italia (FI) and the Spanish PP.

The centre-left S&D would come second in our February projection with 130 out of 705 seats and 17.6% of the popular vote. This would be 18 seats and 1.3 percentage points less in the popular vote than in the 2019 election—again discounting the UK and adding the post-Brexit MEPs. The S&D Group hosts Socialist and Social Democratic parties like the German SPD and the Swedish Social Democrats (S) in the EU Parliament from across the continent.

Europe Elects’ projection of seats of European Parliament in February 2020

Trailing the two frontrunner groups by some margin, the third biggest European Parliamentary group in our February’s projection is the liberal RE Group with 101 seats, up from 97 seats in the 2019 EU election sans the UK. In terms of vote shares, the RE Group receives 11.6% in our projection. That is 0.7 percentage points less than in the EU election last year. The RE Group hosts political parties such as the French LREM, the Dutch VVD, and the German FDP.

The ID Group in the European Parliament is projected to get 85 out of 705 seats and a vote share of 12.9% if there was an EU election today. This is nine seats and 1.7 percentage points more than in the EU election minus the UK and adding the post-Brexit MEPs. Election systems around the continent seem to produce unfavourable results for the ID, as they would receive over 15 seats less than their counterpart RE with a vote share that is 1.3 points higher. The ID Group consists of groups like Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) in France, Matteo Salvini’s Lega in Italy and other right-wing political parties on the national level.

Europe Elects’ projection of popular vote in the EU in February 2020

The  ECR Group is projected to get 70 seats should the election be held now. The group—which amongst others includes the Polish PiS and the Italian Fratelli d’Italia (FdI)—received 62 seats in the pre-Brexit 2019 EU election, discounting the UK and distributing the post-Brexit MEPs. Across the EU, the national parties affiliated with the ECR Group have a combined EU popular vote share of 9.7%, which is 1.6 points above ECR’s 2019 election result.

The left-wing GUE/NGL is projected to be the sixth-largest bloc in the European Parliament, was there an election today, clearly behind the five biggest groups. The Europe Elects February projection predicts the party would receive 55 out of 705 seats, up from 40 in the EU election 2019 sans the UK. In the popular vote projection, the party stands at 8.7%, up from 7.0% in the 2019 election.

Greens/EFA was the fifth-largest parliamentary group in the European election in May 2019 without the UK, but has now slid to the seventh position. In terms of seats, Green/EFA decreases from 68 seats and 11.5% in the election night to only 53 MEPs and 8.5% in Europe Elects’ February projection.

The Non-Inscrits—those parties left without a parliamentary group—would send 23 MEPs with a 3.9% vote share in the popular vote to the European Parliament with February’s projection. New unaffiliated parties would receive six seats with a 4.3% vote share in the popular vote.

Disproportionate or sometimes opposite developments in the popular vote share and the seat projection can be explained with the slight disproportionality of the electoral system for the European Parliament.

Europe Elects’ projection of seats of European Parliament in February 2020 without the United Kingdom

EU28: how Brexit changed the sitting EU Parliament

The UK left the European Union yesterday. This has changed the structural composition of the parliament, which may be worth mentioning in the context of this projection. The total number of seats decreased from 751 to 705, as the UK’s 73 seats vanished. 27 of them were redistributed for other 27 member states to ensure the European Parliament’s better match to the populations across the continent.

When comparing the sitting post-Brexit parliament to the sitting pre-Brexit parliament, the centre-right EPP Group rises from 182 to 187 seats. This means that the gap between the EPP and the centre-left is widening—S&D parties now have148 MEPs, down from 154 before Brexit. The liberal RE slips to double-digits with now 97 MEPs, down from 108 pre-Brexit. The right-wing ID group (76, +3 compared to pre-Brexit) overtakes the Greens/EFA Group (68, -6).

The national-conservative ECR slides down one seat, from 61 to 62, following the Brexit, as the seats of UK conservatives are almost compensated by gains in other member nations. Left-wing GUE/NGL loses one seat post-Brexit, which is doubled by the recent moving of a German former Tierschutzpartei MEP to Non-Inscrits following a revelation of his past far-right extremism.

Visit our European Parliament projection site for a more in-depth overview and the methodology behind the monthly projection.

In header image: Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, by Financial Times in Flickr with (CC BY-SA 2.0)