EPP set to retain lion’s share of Parliament seats after elections, poll shows
The European People’s Party (EPP) would remain Parliament’s biggest political group after May’s European elections, according to current voting intentions.
Photo Credit: European Parliament Audiovisual
The centre-right group would have 183 seats with the Socialists winning 135, making it again the second biggest group. If correct, the two parties would be well down on the number of seats they currently have in Parliament.
The third biggest would be Alde with 75 seats, which represents a gain for the group; the extreme right Europe of Nations and Freedom would pick up 59 and the ECR group 51 seats, fewer than many had predicted.
Next would be GUE with 46 seats, the Greens with 45 and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) with 43 MEPs.
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There would be 10 non-attached and 58 classed as “others” including the new political party led by French president Emmanuel Macron which is expected to field candidates.
The figures were given at a news conference in Parliament on Monday.
A Parliament spokesman said there was no suggestion that this will be the final outcome of the election and there will be other polls, the next of which will come in two weeks.
POST-BREXIT SEAT SLIDE
The “projections” merely reflect results from the latest opinion polls for the new Parliament, where the number of seats, post-Brexit, will drop from the current 751 to 705.
“This is more of a snapshot of today and there might be significant differences when it comes to polling day” European Parliament spokesman
Parliament worked on the assumption that there will be British MEPs standing.
The projections will be updated every two weeks between now and the elections in May.
The spokesman said, “This is more of a snapshot of today and there might be significant differences when it comes to polling day.”
The results suggest the distribution of seats will, for the first time ever, be more evenly spread around assorted political groupings.
For the first time, it would mean the two big parties, EPP and S&D, would fall below 50 percent of the share of seats. At the last elections in 2014, their share was 55 percent.
Many predict a much bigger share this time for so-called populist and nationalists - a trend that appears confirmed by the poll results.
No less than 58 seats are, currently, not placed in any political group, the briefing was told.
‘MOST IMPORTANT ELECTIONS SINCE 1979’
The results come less than 100 days ahead of what the Parliament spokesman said were “the most important European elections since 1979."
The spokesman said, “These elections will take place in a very different context from 2014. The political world is very different to then. For the first time a Member State is about to leave the EU and this makes us have to ask what sort of future will EU have after 26 May?”
“The traditional parties such as EPP and the Socialists are being contested by newcomers who are now coming onto the scene.”
He said that current polls showed that public opinion is focused on concerns for security and democracy in the EU, “a process undermined by fake news on social media.”
He said that the latest Eurobarometer poll showed that 68 percent of those polled feel that their countries benefit from being part of the EU, a record high.
However, only 41 percent of those surveyed said they knew the date of the election.
“This shows we still have a lot of work to do to inform others,” said the spokesman.
To boost turnout, Parliament has mounted a big awareness campaign.
The spokesman said, “We have 150 trans-European partners trying to encourage people to vote, including those voting for the first time, plus personalities who have agreed to help in this regard.”
“This is not only an election just for Parliament but an election to find a parliamentary majority to elect a new Commission President.”
Most of the mainstream parties have put forward a candidate but Alde still has to do so, he said.
“One of the of the highlights of the campaign will be a debate between the lead candidates organised by the European Broadcasting Union.”
This will take place on 15 May in Parliament’s hemicycle in Brussels, he said.
There will be further candidate debates.