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EU Parliamentary Projection: May Proves Out To Be a Stable Month

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 the 2019 election results.

May 2021 saw minute change in the Europe Elects European Parliamentary projection compared to last month, with the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) Group losing a projected three seats, and the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group seeing an uptick of two projected seats after their hiccup last month, when they lost seven seats compared to March. Furthermore, the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) Group—comprising various green, regionalist, seperatist and minority interest parties—further adds two projected seats and half a percentage point to their April polling result.

As has continuously been the case since March 2017, the centre-right EPP Group would remain the largest bloc in the assembly if there were to be held EU Parliamentary elections today, as they look to conquer 155 out of the 705 seats with a popular vote share of 20.6%. 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 would come second with 146 out of 705 seats and 18.0% of the popular vote, up two seats albeit down 0.3 points from last month’s projection. This would result in 0.6% and four seats less than in the 2019 elections—again discounting the UK and adding the post-Brexit MEPs. The S&D’s slight rise in seats in this month’s projection can, among other trends, be attributed to the Italian left-wing parliamentary group, Free and Equal (LeU-S&D) is back above the threshold line, having fallen below last month, and is now standing at a projected four seats in the European Parliament.

Trailing the two frontrunners by some margin is the liberal Renew Europe (RE) Group, comprising the third largest European Parliamentary group in our May projection with 92 seats—five seats less than the group received in the 2019 EU election sans the UK and one less than in last month’s projection. In terms of vote share, the RE Group receives 11.4% in our projection, a 0.9 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 393 out of 705 total seats, as these three groups were the ones that voted to confirm the now-incumbent Commission in 2019.

Europe Elects’ projection of popular vote in the EU since the last EU election

The national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group currently enjoys a certain stability, projected at 76 seats—up a single seat from April. The group and its members are looking to become the fourth-largest group in the European Parliament if elections were held today, having 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 May, exactly the same as last month’s projection while being 2.4 percentage 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 18.7% in the latest Europe Elects average.

Our May 2021 projection shows little change for the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) Group, 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 58 seats and 9.1% of the projected vote share in Europe Elects’ May 2021 projection, an uptick from the projected 8.5 per cent of votes and 56 seats in April. In European Parliamentary projections extrapolated from national polling, the Greens’ vote share has previously proved 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 51 seats trailing Greens/EFA with seven projected seats, down one seat from last month, while up an overall 11 seats from the 2019 elections. In the popular vote projection, the group stands at 7.8%, 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 left without a parliamentary group in the European Parliament—would send 35 MEPs with a 5.0% popular vote share to Brussels. Hungarian Fidesz joined the Non-Inscrits in March, 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 declined to a projected 14 seats if elections were held today—down from 17 last month.

18 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 twelve seats for the centrist Poland 2050 (PL2050-*), four seats for the centrist Bulgarian party There Are Such People (Ima Takûv Narod, ITN-*) and a single seat each for the Latvian right-wing Law and Order (LuK-*) and the Bulgarian Stand Up.BG (Изправи се.БГ, IS.BG).

National Developments

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) has stabilised after its free fall earlier this spring. Standing at 35.9% in German federal polls on 1 January 2021, the union has dropped an incredible 11.2 percentage points, now standing at 24.7% in the latest Europe Elects average. 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—virtually tied with the Alliance ‘90/The Greens (Grüne-Greens/EFA) at 24.4%. If European Parliamentary elections were to be held today, Grüne would be the largest single party in Europe, looking to capture 23 seats in the 705-mandate chamber—up two seats from last month’s projection—just ahead of the French liberal La République En Marche! (LREM-RE) and the right-wing National Rally (RN-ID), who stand at 22 seats each.

In Spain, the centre-right People’s Party (PP-EPP) continues its surge amid its momentum following the Madrid regional elections earlier this month that saw the party more than double its number of seats in the regional parliament. On a national level, the party stands at 28.3% in the latest Europe Elects average, up 5.7 percentage points from 1 January. This would translate into 18 seats in the European Parliament—up from a projected 16 last month.

The liberal Czech ANO 2011 (ANO-RE) and the Spanish left-wing United We Can (UP-LEFT) alliance both decrease by two projected seats each—from seven to five and from eight to six, respectively.

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.

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