Become a Patron

EU Parliamentary Projection: A Calm Month Rounds Off a Busy Year

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, and how this outlook changes on a monthly basis.

Polls conducted in December show that the informal coalition of the three political groups in the European Parliament behind the election of Ursula von der Leyen (EPP) as President of the European Commission have an absolute majority of 402 out of 705 seats, two seats more than predicted in the previous month. This is due to gains of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). The former gained two seats to now 160 and the latter gained one seat to now 143. The third of them, liberal Renew Europe (RE), lost one seat in the projection and is now at 99.

On the right side of the political spectrum there was no change compared to the month before: The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) stay at 84 seats and Identity and Democracy (ID) at 63 seats. Also on the left, the Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA) had no change and have 56 seats as in November, but the Left Group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL (LEFT) lost one seat to now 48. Of the remaining seats, 45 are taken by unaffiliated Non-Inscrits (NI), one less than before, and seven by not (yet) affiliated parties, also no change for them.

In summary, the forecasts have barely changed in this last month of the year, giving us a chance to look back at the start of 2022. Since the start of the year, there have been major changes for some factions, though not for all. For this comparison, RE remains at the same number of seats, as well as G/EFA and ID gained only one seat, while LEFT lost one. The change is not much larger for the EPP, which gained two seats compared to 2022.

In stark contrast, there were larger changes in the projection for S&D, which lost nine seats in one year, and for ECR, which gained 6 seats in the same period. There were also larger changes for NI (+10 seats) and unaffiliated parties (-10 seats).

Looking at the margin of error for December’s projection, the EPP is still the largest group, followed by the S&D, but the gap between the two is still small enough that both could end up with the same number of seats. RE and ECR are in 3rd and 4th place, both with a clear gap to each other and to other groups in the European Parliament. After that, ID is projected to be the next largest group, but it would not necessarily be ahead of G/EFA, which in turn could be overtaken by LEFT, which is now projected to be the sixth largest group. NI is smaller than all other factions but LEFT and G/EFA are within reach.

Behind these developments lie changes for the groups’ member parties at the national level. This December there were mostly minor changes of only one seat up or down for individual parties. The only changes bigger than that concerned the Germany green party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (G/EFA) who are down by two seats in this projection and the Party of the Hungarian minority in Romania – Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România (EPP) – which would lose representation in the European Parliament, while in November they were still projected with two seats.

The composition of the European Parliament also changed in the last month: Beatrice Covassi filled a vacancy for the Italian PD (S&D) and, following the Qatar corruption scandal, Eva Kaili was expelled from both her national party, PASOK (S&D), and the S&D group in the European Parliament. Currently, she is still a member of the European Parliament and sits with the Non-Inscrits. If you are interested in who left and who is new in the European Parliament, you can find detailed information here.

On a sad note, on December 29, the Slovak SMER (S&D) party announced that its MEP Miroslav Číž has passed away.

In the popular vote projection for December were several minor and one ‘major’ change. The three groups supporting the President of the European Commission all have slight losses compared to the previous month. The European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are both down by 0.1 percentage point to 21.1% and 18.7% respectively, which is borderline meaningless with the inherent uncertainty in opinion polls even in aggregate. Renew Europe (RE) is now at 11.5%, down from 11.7% in November. This means that the three groups retain an absolute majority of voters behind them, with 51.3% of the vote

The ‘biggest’ change this month is that the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) gained 0.4 percentage points to 11.6%, overtaking RE as the third strongest group. Identity and Democracy (ID) follows with 8.9% unchanged from November. Behind them are the Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA) with 7.6%, down half a percentage point, and the LEFT as the smallest group in the popular vote reaching 7.1% (-0.1). Those parties that have not (yet) joined a group come in at 7.9%, an increase of 0.7 percentage points, and the Non-Inscrits stand at 5.4%, after 5.5% in November.

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.

As the year comes to a close, let’s also look back at what changed in the popular vote in 2022, the chart below shows the changes that occurred over that time:

It can be seen that the three groups supporting the European Commission have declined by a combined 1.9 percentage points over the year. Opposition on the left has increased by 0.8% and on the right by 1.4%. Similar to the seat projection the changes throughout 2022 are mostly due to the losses of S&D and the gains of ECR.

Last but not least there were changes in the European Council  in December as one member switched from RE to EPP. This happened because of a planned change in the ruling coalition in Ireland where Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael (EPP) took over as Taoiseach from Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil (RE). Furthermore, two members were confirmed in their role as prime ministers of their countries, and with that prolong their term in the body: Mette Frederiksen (S&D) in Denmark and Krišjānis Kariņš (EPP) in Latvia. In Bulgaria the forming of a government after the election in the beginning of October is still ongoing and if it is not successful, another election could be held in the early spring of 2023.

After an interesting 2022, we can also look forward to the new year, which will see many interesting, planned elections (and perhaps some unplanned ones), starting with the presidential elections in the Czech Republic in January. If you want to know what’s coming up, check out our Election Calendar. Presidential elections will take place in the Czech Republic as early as January