Regardless of whether the UK participates in the EU-wide poll, so-called anti-European parties look likely to become the second-largest group in Parliament, with up to 35 percent of seats.
The ECFR says the Parliament will be “significantly different” after the election and the “grand coalition” of the EPP and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats will no longer have a majority of MEPs.
With this outcome, “everything depends” on the alliances formed by the pro-European parties and especially the centre parties on particular issues, says the Council.
In a major analysis of the likely outcome of the 23-26 May elections, the ECFR says that the future composition of the assembly could shape voters’ futures on a range of issue from the economy and climate change and tax justice.
Susi Dennison, director of the European Power programme and senior policy fellow at the ECFR, warned, “Ground-breaking as this likely outcome would be, with the grand coalition of EPP and S&D set to lose their overall majority for the first time in the Parliament’s history, there are still high levels of complacency among the mainstream parties around these elections.”
“One often hears the argument - particularly in Brussels - that these elections are nothing new. We were talking about the challenge from the anti-Europeans already at the last European elections in 2014, and their stronger showing in this Parliament has not made a huge practical difference.”
“This time the anti-EU forces are thinking as a pan European force and, spearheaded by La Liga’s Matteo Salvini, they are mounting an argument for a Europe of sovereign nations that is grounded in an understanding of voters’ desire for a changed Europe, not no Europe.”
“[Despite] the grand coalition of EPP and S&D set to lose their overall majority for the first time in the Parliament’s history, there are still high levels of complacency among the mainstream parties around these elections” Susi Dennison, ECFR
“This time there is a strategy to create self- hating institutions,” she added.
The ECFR analysis also considers those who seek to “play down” the elections and argue that it is wrong to overestimate the Parliament and that the other EU institutions matter more.
Contrary to this view, Dennison told this website, “The Parliament has a role in approving and shaping the next EU budget and a blocking minority will push hard for one that reflects their vision of a closed, nation-first Europe.”
Dennison says that in a “volatile” European electorate where 75 percent of voters believe that either their national or European political system, or both, are broken there is “all to play for in the last weeks of campaigning.”
“If the mainstream remains complacent change will not come immediately and we will have moved further down the path of self-destruction of the European project.”
“Pro-European parties will be guilty of having turned a blind eye when there was still time to reset the course,” she added.