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EU Parliamentary Projection: Tusk’s Return Boosts the Centre-Right

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.

Donald Tusk becoming chairman of Poland’s leading opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO-EPP) was the largest story in the EU bubble this July. The former Polish Prime Minister’s return to Polish electoral politics proved to be virtually the only decisive factor in the polling landscape in the notoriously apolitical summer month.

The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) Group is up three seats compared to last month, largely carried by the polling boost for the Polish Civic Coalition (KO-EPP) electoral alliance—of which the Civic Platform is the senior partner—caused by Tusk’s return to Polish politics.

Meanwhile, the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) Group saw its support decrease further, having lost a further two projected seats and 0.4 percentage points of the popular vote since last month’s Europe Elects projection, which also showed them declining. The right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) Group is down one seat from last month, and, conversely, the national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group is up one.

The Groups

As has continuously been the case since March 2017, the 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 159 out of the 705 seats with a popular vote share of 21.5%, up a single seat and 0.3 percentage points since last month. 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%. The EPP’s recent resurgence is a subtle sign that the group’s support is growing back towards the earlier heights after its unprecedented retreat this spring.

Europe Elects’ projection of seats in European Parliament since the last EU election

The centre-left S&D would come second with 144 out of 705 seats and 18.1% of the popular vote,  up 0.2 pp from last month’s projection with no change in seats. The changes from last month are easily accounted for by noise in polls and the end result remains practically unchanged.  This would result in 0.8 percentage points and four seats less than in the 2019 elections—again discounting the UK and adding the post-Brexit MEPs.

Trailing the two frontrunners by quite some margin is the liberal Renew Europe (RE) Group, comprising the third largest European Parliamentary group in our July projection with 94 seats—three seats less than the group received in the 2019 EU election sans the UK and the same as in last month’s projection. In terms of popular vote share, the RE Group would receive 11.8% if elections were held today, a 0.5 percentage point drop compared to the 2019 European elections, albeit the same as in last month’s projection.

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 397 out of 705 total seats, as these three groups were the ones that voted to confirm the now-incumbent Commission in 2019.

Our June 2021 projection shows a minor decrease for the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) Group, receiving one projected seat less than last month: 76 seats with 10.6% of the popular vote, the same projected vote share as 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 group received 76 seats in European Parliamentary Election 2019 without the UK.

On the other hand, the national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group gained one seat compared to last month, now standing at a projected 76 seats. The group and its members are tied with the ID Group in looking to become the fourth-largest group in the European Parliament if elections were held today. In the 2019 EU elections, they received 62 seats, 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 10.3% in June, the same as in last month’s projection while being 2.2 percentage points above ECR’s 2019 election result.

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

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. The group has decreased from 68 seats and 11.5% in the May 2019 elections to 53 projected seats and 7.6 per cent of the projected vote share in Europe Elects’ May 2021 projection, down from 55 seats and an 8.0% projected popular vote share in May. 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 tied for sixth place with the Greens/EFA Group. The group receives the exact same results as last month: 52 projected seats with a vote share of 7.2%, a little above the 7.0% they received 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 34 MEPs with a 5.0% popular vote share to Brussels. This is also the exact same result as in last month’s projection. Hungarian Fidesz joined the Non-Inscrits in March, this month contributing 11 seats to the pool of non-grouped MEPs. The Italian Five Star Movement (M5S-NI), whose seven current MEPs sit with the Non-Inscrits, stand at a projected 14 seats if elections were to be held today.

17 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 ten seats for the centrist Poland 2050 (PL2050-*)—down three from last month, five seats for the centrist Bulgarian party There Are Such People (Ima Takûv Narod, ITN-*), and one seat for the Dutch Farmer–Citizen Movement (BBB-*).

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 taken a hit, having flopped and subsequently resurged earlier this year. Standing at 35.9% in German federal polls on 1 January 2021, the union dropped to a low of 24.4% of the vote share in the middle of May, according to the Europe Elects average. The party now stands at 27.7% of the vote—down one percentage point from last month’s European Parliamentary Projection.

The German Alliance ‘90/The Greens (Grüne-Greens/EFA) continues its decrease after its flush of support this spring. Peaking at 24.8% in early May, the party is now standing at 18.0% of the projected popular vote share, down 2.0 percentage points from the time of last month’s projection article. Regarding projected seats in the European Parliament, the party is looking to capture 18 seats in the 705-mandate chamber—down three seats from last month’s projection.

Ahead of the German federal elections at the end of September, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD-ID) rises slightly in the polls and is now projected to win 11 seats in the European Parliament if elections were held today, up two seats from last month.

The Italian Brothers of Italy of the national-conservative ECR continues its ascension, polling first in our Italian polling average for the first time ever earlier this month. The party has narrowly overtaken the right-wing Lega (ID) in a three-way dead heat for first place between the two and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD-S&D). The party received 6.4% of the Italian vote in the 2019 European Parliamentary elections.

Donald Tusk brought with him a flood of support as he assumed the leadership of the Civic Platform for the second time in his career on 3 July, having previously chaired the party that he co-founded between 2003 and 2014. Standing at 21.1% in the Polish Europe Elects average, the Civic Coalition alliance has surged to now stand at 26.3%. This is also an uptick of three seats in the European Parliament for the alliance, now standing at 13 projected seats.

Bulgaria held its second set of parliamentary elections this year earlier this month. The unaffiliated ITN became the largest party in the elections, scoring 23.8% of the vote. If repeated in a European election, this would translate into five EP seats for the party—one seat more than what was projected for the party last month. Also the centre-right GERB (EPP)—which was allied with the centre-right Union of Democratic Forces (Sayuz na demokratichnite sili, SDS-EPP) in the July elections—increased its vote share, and now stands at five projected seats in the European Parliament, up one from last month.

If European Parliamentary elections were held today, the single largest party would be the French right-wing Rassemblement National (RN-ID), standing at 25 seats in this month’s projection and a single seat ahead of its main rival, the French liberal La République En Marche ! (LREM-RE), which, with 24 projected seats, looks to become the second largest single party in the European Parliament.

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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