The upcoming elections will recast the balance of MEPs and populists stand to gain mostby Simon Hix / May 9, 2019 / Leave a comment
The European Parliament elections are fast approaching, where 28 countries will head to the polls to select their MEPs. All UK attention is on the domestic political implications. Will the Brexit Party triumph? Why are we holding elections when we voted Leave in 2016?
But there is an equally important, even wider question: what will these elections mean for the EU? Here, the answer is worth digging into in some detail. The result could shake up the bloc’s traditional political groupings and change the direction of the policy agenda of the EU going forward, which will have implications for the whole of Europe, including the UK, whether inside or outside the EU.
The European Parliament elections will shape the direction of the EU for the next five years, and potentially for much longer. The parliament has a crucial role in determining policy and the occupants of key offices. Here is the current political make-up of the European Parliament and the likely make-up of the next parliament, after the elections in May, based on current national opinion polls.
The overall balance of power between the left and right is unlikely to change very much. But the size of the political groups, and the potential coalitions that will form, are likely to change quite dramatically. The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group will be considerably smaller, while the centrist Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) is likely to be larger, especially if President Macron’s La République en Marche! party joins that alliance.
The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is also likely to lose seats, although it should remain the largest group in the parliament. Meanwhile, the populist parties on the right of the EPP are likely to be considerably stronger, particularly the new European Alliance of Peoples and Nations (EAPN) group, formed by Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen.
The next figure shows the likely changes in the sizes of the key coalitions.
The grand coalition between the EPP and S&D, which has traditionally dominated the parliament, is likely to fall below a majority of seats in the parliament for the first time: down to about 44 per cent of seats. A centre-left bloc and a centre-right bloc will also be down considerably. Meanwhile, the “EU critics”—in the groups on the right of the EPP as well as in the radical left European United Left/Nordic Green Left (EUL/NGL)—are likely to…