97 million swing voters up for grabs

Written by Martin Banks on 18 April 2019 in News
News

The upcoming European elections are a "real opportunity for mainstream parties to reconnect with voters", according to latest report from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

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A major new report claims that there could be as many as 97 million swing voters in play at this year’s European Parliament elections.

According to data collected across 14 member states that make up 80 percent of the seats in the Parliament, only 43 percent will definitely vote while 57 percent are less likely to do so.

Of those who say they will definitely turn-out in the 23-26 May polls, 70 percent are classed as swing voters who are not committed to any one party.


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The report’s authors, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), says it shows that the European electorate is in a “volatile rather than polarised state”.

If true, the findings suggest it will be hard to predict the outcome of the elections, where so called populists are expected to perform well.

According to Mark Leonard, the ECFR’s Founding Director, “swathes of voters are moving fluidly between parties of the right and left”.

It argues that the best way for mainstream political parties to “understand, mobilise, and win back” voters is to look at how they view national and EU institutions – and whether they feel the “system” works in their interests.

“There is everything still to play for in the European elections. Our research finds that a huge proportion of the European electorate are still undecided on how they’ll vote” Mark Leonard, ECFR Founding Director

The ECFR is a pan-European think-tank, launched in October 2007.

The report also seeks to disprove “five myths” about the upcoming elections, including “the idea that European politics is moving from parties to polarised tribes based on identity” and “the idea that this will be a contest between pro-Europeans and nationalists.”

Leonard said: “There is everything still to play for in the European elections. Our research finds that a huge proportion of the European electorate are still undecided on how they’ll vote.”

“It’s clear from our data that political tribalism has not yet taken hold across Europe. Rather than a gravitating to the extremes, the European electorate are confused – stuck in a whirlpool of kaleidoscopic chaos – moving in every direction, between the right and the left, and from the populists to the mainstream.”

“In this fluid environment there is a real opportunity for mainstream parties to reconnect with voters. However, they cannot allow themselves to be labelled as defenders of the status quo. They must recast themselves as bold reformers with policies that will change the lives of citizens for the better. Only then will they win back the trust of Europe’s moderate majority.”

“It’s clear from our data that political tribalism has not yet taken hold across Europe” Mark Leonard

Meanwhile, parliament has launched what it calls a “new, dynamic” website that contains all results from past and present European elections. Available in all official EU languages.

It will be updated in real time on election night on 26 May with overall European election results, including national breakdowns as details are transmitted by national authorities.

The website contains the composition of all outgoing European Parliaments since 1984, breakdowns by national parties and political groups since 1979 and all results at national level since 2009.

The site also offers information on trends in European elections, for example on gender balance.

Further details available here: www.election-results.eu

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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