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EU Parliamentary Projection: Centre-Left Takes the Lead for the First Time in Years

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.

The centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) is once again leading the Europe Elects EU Parliament projection, after years of playing second fiddle on the European political stage to the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). The last time this was the case was January 2017: two months before the United Kingdom triggered Article 50 to withdraw from the European Union, more than two years before the last European Parliament election, and nearly five years before Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU-EPP) was finally defeated at the ballot box this September.

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

In the wake of the CDU’s defeat, the victorious Social Democratic Party (SDP-S&D) has surged in the polls, giving the S&D group in the European Parliament the nudge needed to overtake the EPP with 155 seats to 151. As the EU’s largest country, Germany sends by far the most parliamentarians to the European Parliament, meaning the dramatic change in the standing of Germany’s two dominant parties has reverberated across the EU. 

The CDU currently has 26 seats in the European Parliament, but if an election was held today, the party would win only 15. The SDP meanwhile would grow its representation in the European Parliament from 16 to 26. Last month the EPP and S&D groups were tied at 20.3%, with the EPP still leading by two seats. Now, the S&D group leads the EPP 20.7% to 19.5%.

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

Also seeing a positive change in its fortunes thanks to the German election is the liberal Renew Europe (RE), which has grown more than any other grouping over the last month, up eight seats from our September projections to 102, with 13% of the popular vote projected, up 1 percentage point from last month. The strong performance of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP-RE) in Germany has been a large boon to the RE group, as the FDP would win 16 seats if an election was held today, up from five in 2019. 

Less dramatic is the surge of the Green grouping, which is up four seats compared to September with 51 as the German Alliance ‘90/The Greens (Grüne-Greens/EFA) failed to capitalize on the CDU’s decline as much as they had hoped, polling at times in first place before dropping to third in the election. This leaves the Greens in sixth place if an election were to be held today, a far cry from when the Greens won a record-high 74 seats in 2019, becoming the fourth largest grouping in the European Parliament. In terms of the popular vote 7.2% would go to the Greens, the same percentage as last month.

Change from last month of Europe Elects’ projection

The Greens would still sit behind the national-conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), who are up three seats from last month’s projection to 81, as well as the right-wing Identity and Democracy Group (ID), unchanged at 75. The two are neck and neck in the popular vote, with 10.5% going to the ECR group and 10.3% to ID. Also unchanged is The Left Group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL (LEFT) with 50 seats, although it has dropped down to seventh place behind the Greens, though it leads the Greens slightly in the popular vote with 7.3%.

Germany is not the only country that has caused shifts in the standings of Europe’s Parliamentary groupings over the past month. The most dramatic decline for any party in any country is the ruling Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP-EPP), which has seen a decline of eight percentage points from last month. This is due to Sebastian Kurz stepping down as Chancellor over a corruption scandal that has embroiled his party and his chancellorship over the past several months. This is part of why the EPP has seen such a dramatic decline over the past month even as the CDU has only really seen a 3.8 percentage point dip.

The Non-Inscrits (NI)—those parties and MEPs left without a parliamentary group in the European Parliament—would send one less MEP than last month, coming to 35, with 5.3% of the vote. And, finally, just five seats would go to parties with no affiliation to any European Parliament grouping. This is 10 fewer than last month, a large reason for which is the affiliation of the centrist Poland 2050 (PL2050~RE) with the RE group, something which also accounts for the dramatic RE surge this 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.

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