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European Parliament Projection: Ireland, Thuringia, and the Aftermath

Photo by European Parliament, with CC-BY-4.0

Europe Elects produces a monthly 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 184 out of 705 seats post-Brexit and a popular vote share of 22.7%. 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 133 out of 705 seats and 18.0% of the popular vote. This would be 15 seats and 0.9 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 99 seats, up from 97 seats in the 2019 EU election sans the UK. In terms of vote shares, the RE Group receives 10.9% in our projection. That is 1.4 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 latter fights with the negative reactions of the voters to the government crisis in Thuringia, which also explained the RE decline this month. 

The ID Group in the European Parliament is projected to get 85 out of 705 seats and a vote share of 12.5% if there was an EU election today. This is eight seats and 1.3 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 14 seats less than their counterpart RE with a vote share that is 1.6 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 68 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 to be an election today, clearly behind the five biggest groups. The Europe Elects February projection predicts the party would receive 56 out of 705 seats, up from 40 in the EU election 2019 sans the UK. In the popular vote projection, the party stands at 9.1%, up from 7.0% in the 2019 election. GUE/NGL’s modest recent rise is especially based on the rise of its two members – LINKE Germany and Sinn Féin Ireland – in polls. Sinn Féin had a successful national parliament election campaign focusing on housing and social inequality. LINKE has profited from the ongoing government crisis in the region of Thuringia, which had repercussions on the national level. 

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 8.4% in Europe Elects’ February projection.

The Non-Inscrits—those parties left without a parliamentary group—would send 21 MEPs with a 3.8% vote share in the popular vote to the European Parliament with February’s projection. New unaffiliated parties would receive six seats with a 4.9% vote share in the popular vote. This includes NTD Bulgaria (2 seats), the new national-conservative Skoro party PDMŠ in Croatia (2 seats), and the national-conservative TT Lithuania (1 seat). 

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 at the end of January. 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 post-Brexit parliament to the 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 have 148 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 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.