Europe Elects’ European Parliament projection offers an indication of how voters in the European Union would vote should there be an EU Parliament election today. The timeline of the data presents how the national voting intentions of European citizens have shifted over the course of the pandemic on the EU level on a monthly basis. When comparing seats and the popular vote projected to the 2019 EU election result in this article, we contrast them to the EU27 scenario—meaning we exclude the United Kingdom, which left the EU in January 2020, also from 2019 election results.
April 2021 proved to be a particularly tough time for the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group, losing seven projected seats. Meanwhile, the Greens/European Free Alliance Group (Greens/EFA)—comprising various green, regionalist and minority interest parties—adds four projected seats. And, with 10.5% of the projected popular vote, the national-conservative ECR hits their highest projected vote share since Brexit.
As has continuously been the case since March 2017, the centre-right European People’s Party Group (EPP) would remain the largest bloc in the assembly if there were to be held EU Parliamentary elections today, as they look to conquer 158 out of the 705 seats with a popular vote share of 20.3%. 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 seats and a popular vote share of 22.6%.
Europe Elects’ projection of seats in European Parliament since the last EU election
The centre-left S&D Group would come second with 144 out of 705 seats and 18.3% of the popular vote, down seven seats from last month’s projection. This would result in 0.6 percentage points and four seats less than in the 2019 elections—again discounting the UK and adding the post-Brexit MEPs. The S&D’s polling hiccup can be attributed to two specific national trends. Firstly, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (Bŭlgarska socialističeska partija, BSP-S&D) underperformed in this month’s national parliamentary elections which later showed up in polling too, cutting their projected EP seats from five to three. Secondly, the Italian left-wing Free and Equal (LeU-S&D) parliamentary group alliance falls below the threshold line from four projected seats in March to none this month.
Trailing the two frontrunners by some margin is the liberal Renew Europe Group (RE), constituting the third largest European Parliamentary group in our April projection with 93 seats. this is four seats less than the group received in the 2019 EU election sans the UK, albeit the same amount as in last month’s projection. In terms of vote share, the RE Group receives 11.3% in our projection, one percentage point drop compared to the 2019 European elections.
With this level of support for the EPP, S&D and RE Groups, the European Commission of President Ursula von der Leyen (EPP) would continue to hold a comfortable de facto majority of 395 out of 705 total seats, as these three groups were the ones that voted to confirm the now-incumbent Commission back in 2019.
Europe Elects’ projection of popular vote in the EU since the last EU election
The national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) currently enjoys a certain stability, projected at 75 seats—up a single seat from March. ECR is looking to become the fourth-largest group in the European Parliament if elections were held today after having been tied with the right-wing ID Group for the ranking last month. The ECR Group received 62 seats in the 2019 EU election, discounting the UK and distributing the post-Brexit MEPs.
Across the EU, national parties affiliated with the ECR have a combined popular vote share of 10.5% in April, 2.4 points above ECR’s 2019 election result, and the strongest performance measured since Brexit came into force in February 2020. Part of this rise can be attributed to the increase of support for the Italian Brothers of Italy (FdI-ECR), which has been steadily rising in the past years, and which now stands at 18% in the latest Europe Elects polling average of Italy.
Our April 2021 projection shows a minute change for the right-wing Identity and Democracy Group (ID), receiving the same amount of projected seats as last month: 74 seats with 10.6% of the popular vote, down 0.2 points from last month. Receiving 76 seats with 11.2% of the vote in the 2019 elections, the group peaked at a projected 85 seats in the Europe Elects Projections in January and February 2020.
The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) became the fifth-largest parliamentary group in the European elections in May 2019 discounting the UK, but has since fallen significantly and to sixth place. In terms of representation, Greens/EFA has decreased from 68 seats and 11.5% in the May 2019 elections to 56 seats and 8.5% in Europe Elects’ April 2021 projection, an uptick from the projected 8.2 per cent of votes and 52 seats in March. In European Parliamentary projections extrapolated from national polling, the Greens’ vote share has previously proved out to be smaller than the ultimate election results: in 2019, Greens/EFA outdid the Europe Elects projection with 15 seats, proving out to be the biggest upset of the election.
The Left Group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL (LEFT) is projected to be the seventh-largest bloc at 52 seats, trailing Greens/EFA with four projected seats. LEFT is up one seat from last month 12 seats from the 2019 elections. In the popular vote projection, the group stands at 7.9%, up from 7.0% in the 2019 EP elections. It has been previously seen, however, that the LEFT Group has been overestimated in opinion polls. At the 2019 European Parliamentary elections, the party received 11 seats less than the voting projection by Europe Elects, as multiple of the group’s parties appeared stronger in polls ahead of the EU election than in the actual election result.
The Non-Inscrits (NI)—those parties and MEPs currently without a parliamentary group in the European Parliament—would send 34 MEPs with a 5.1% popular vote share to Brussels. Hungarian Fidesz joined the ranks Non-Inscrits in March having parted ways with the centre-right EPP, back then adding 10 projected seats to the pool of non-grouped MEPs. The Italian Five Star Movement (M5S-NI), whose seven current MEPs sit with the Non-Inscrits, have jumped to a projected 17 seats if elections were held today—up from 14 last month.
19 seats would go to unaffiliated parties that have no relationship to the groups mentioned previously and are not currently represented in the EU Parliament. This includes thirteen seats for the centrist Poland 2050 (PL2050-*), five seats for the centrist Bulgarian party There Is Such a People (Ima Takûv Narod, ITN-*) and a single seat for the Latvian right-wing Law and Order (LuK-*).
Bulgaria held their national parliamentary election on 4 April in what proved out to be an upset election. The BSP for Bulgaria (S&D) alliance, of whom the BSP is the most prominent member, stumbled in the polls, underperformed and lost 37 seats in the 240-seat chamber, resulting in bad showing in subsequent polls and in a loss of two projected European Parliamentary seats for the S&D. Meanwhile, the centrist There Are Such People (Ima Takûv Narod, ITN-*) surged to take second place in the elections and subsequent polls, at the same time going from three to five projected EP seats. The party is not currently represented in the European Parliament and has not publicly shared an intention to affiliate itself with any existing group therein.
In Germany, the polling support for the centre-right sister party alliance between the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU-EPP) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU-EPP) continues its free fall, costing the EPP Group another projected seat this month. Standing at 35.9% in German federal polls on 1 January 2021, the union has dropped an incredible 11.5 percentage points, now standing at 24.4% in the latest Europe Elects polling average of Germany. Should the current result in our polling average be repeated in a European Parliamentary election, the CDU and CSU would send a combined 26 of Germany’s 96 MEPs to Brussels—twenty representing the CDU and six representing the CSU—down from 29 in the last European Parliamentary election.
Furthermore, the CDU/CSU only barely retains its status as the largest force in the German Europe Elects average, and recent data suggests that the Alliance ‘90/The Greens (Grüne-Greens/EFA) is leading the field in the lead-up to September’s federal elections—now looking at 21 projected seats in the European Parliament, the most of any single party in Germany.
In Spain, the liberal Citizens (Cs-RE) party has taken another dive in the polls, now standing at 3.4% in the latest Europe Elects polling average of Spain. Having won eight seats in the European Parliament in the 2019 elections, the party is now down to two projected seats—a halving of their four projected seats last month.
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 explanation of the methodology behind the monthly projection.