EU Parliamentary Projection: Talent-Show Judges, Folk Singers, and Eastern Europe

What do a talent show judge, a former prime minister, and a folk singer have in common? What sounds like the unpleasant start of a dad joke provokes a surprising response: Personalities from all three métiers have shown that they can disrupt the political party landscape in European countries in 2020. Their breakthrough in polls is so momentous that it reflects on Europe Elects’ October EU Parliament projection. 

One of the three new political movements in Eastern Europe is Hlas (“Voice”). The centre-left national parliament group around former prime minister Peter Pellegrini has skyrocketed to 18.7% in Europe Elects’ polling average in October, now spearheading the highly fragmented political party landscape in Slovakia. Hlas split from Smer (S&D) and differentiates itself from the mother party by more liberal policies in the social arena. The party holds 11 of the 150 national parliament seats and will likely seek to become an ally of S&D in the future.

Read what Europe Elects’ Tomas Balint wrote about the struggle over the soul of Slovakia’s social democracy in May 2020 here.

Polska 2050 (“Poland 2050”) holds one MP in the national parliament and currently attains 10.5% in the Europe Elects polling average. The proposed party is centred around Szymon Hołownia. Hołownia became famous as a journalist and talent show moderator but is known to Europe Elects enthusiasts as the third-strongest candidate in the 2020 Polish Presidential election. According to most polls, his party would fare similarly if contesting in a national parliament election. Hołownia presents himself as a liberal and is devout Catholic., a significant contrast to the government party PiS that often presents more conservative version of Catholicism as the favoured exegesis of Christian philosophy in Poland’s political arena. Polska 2050 has no publicly known transnational political affiliations. 

ITN, Ima takâv narod, or ‘There is no such people’ in Bulgaria is a centrist political party by Bulgarian singer and TV host Slavi Trifonov. ITN has been the main beneficiary of the discontent in Bulgaria with the ruling centre-right to national-conservative government. During the ongoing anti-government protests, ITN ascended to 15.4% in our polling average. The party has positioned itself as an anti-corruption force that supports Bulgaria’s EU and NATO membership. Bulgaria will elect a new national parliament on 28 March 2021. ITN has no transnational political affiliations. 

Read what Europe Elects’ Teodora Yovcheva wrote about Ima takâv narod (ITN) in October 2019 when the movement initially formed here.

But how do the powerful newcomers shake the balance on the European level? Europe Elects’ projection offers data to understand the overall trends in the political mood in the European Union. The monthly estimate shows how voters in the European Union would vote, should there be an EU Parliament election today. When comparing seats and popular vote projected to the election result in this article, we contrast them to the EU27 scenario—meaning we exclude the United Kingdom. 

Our exclusive October 2020 projection shows that the centre-right EPP Group in the European Parliament would again remain the largest bloc in the assembly if there was an EU Parliament election today, with 197 out of 705 post-Brexit seats and a popular vote share of 25.0%. In the EU election in May 2019—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%.

Within the EPP Group, which is also the political home of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the balance of power would slightly shift towards the French Les Républicains (LR), which rose from 10 to 14 seats compared to the previous month. This surge comes after the party was able to gain ground in several national parliament by-elections. However, Angela Merkel’s CDU would remain by far the largest-single party within the EPP group with 27 seats. The Partidul Mișcarea Populară (PMP) improves its performance just ahead of the national parliament election in Romania. PMP leaps over the national threshold for the EU election to two projected seats. None of the other EPP members shows a larger projected seat change than one compared with the previous month.

The centre-left S&D would come second with 136 out of 705 seats and 18.4% of the popular vote. This would be 12 seats and half a 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. Hlas would contribute three Slovak seats to the S&D group. 

Trailing the two frontrunners by some margin, the third biggest European Parliamentary group in our October projection is the liberal RE Group with 93 seats, which is four seats less than compared to what the group achieved in the 2019 EU election sans the UK. In terms of vote shares, the RE Group receives 10.8% in our projection. Compared to the previous month, RE also declines by two seats and 0.6 points. That reduction is mainly driven by Emmanuel Macron’s La République en marche–Mouvement démocrate (LREM-MoDem) alliance, which suffered a harsh defeat in the recent national parliament by-elections. 

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

With this level of support for EPP, S&D, and RE, the European Commission of Ursula von der Leyen would continue to hold a comfortable majority of 426 out of 705 seats.

The ID Group in the European Parliament continues to decline amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The right-wing group formed around French Le Pen (RN) and Italian Matteo Salvini (Lega) is projected to get 74 out of 705 seats, a vote share of 10.6 % and be the fourth largest European Parliamentary group if there was an EU election today. This is two seats less and 0.6 percentage points less than in the EU election minus the UK and adding the post-Brexit MEPs. It is also the weakest level of voter support since the transition to the ID that included the integration of Dansk Folkeparti (O) and the Finnish Perussuomalaiset (PS) in early summer 2019 into what used to be the ENF group. 

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

The national-conservative ECR Group is projected to get 70 seats should an EU 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 9.9% in October, which is 1.8 points above ECR’s 2019 election result. 

The left-wing GUE/NGL is projected to be the sixth-largest bloc in the European Parliament, should there be an election today, rather clearly behind the five biggest groups. Europe Elects’ October projection predicts the group would receive 54 out of 705 seats, up from 40 in the EU election 2019 sans the UK. In the popular vote projection, the group stands at 7.6%, 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 since slid to the seventh position. In terms of seats, Greens/EFA decreased from 68 seats and 11.5% in the election night to only 48 MEPs and 7.7% in Europe Elects’ October projection. 

The Non-Inscrits—those parties left without a parliamentary group in the European Parliament—would send 24 MEPs with a 4.0% vote share in the popular vote to the European Parliament. Nine seats would go to unaffiliated parties that have no relationship to the groups mentioned before. This includes three seats for the ITN (Bulgaria) and five seats for Polska 2050. in Poland Europe Elects regularly explores which groups in the EU Parliament these parties intend to join to ensure the most accurate European Parliamentary prognosis also in future.

Changes in Europe Elects’ polling average in October 2020 compared to September 2020.

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.

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

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