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Dutch News

19 February 2014

The centre-left Socialists & Democrats Group is set to be the biggest political formation in the next European Parliament according to the first PollWatch 2014 predictions. In the Netherlands the predictions show that Geert Wilders’ PVV will not win more than five seats. His far-right group including the French Front National, could win 38 seats, but they will need to secure members from seven European countries.


PollWatch 2014 – a project developed by VoteWatch Europe in partnership with Burson-Marsteller and Europe Decides – predicts that the Socialists will win 217 seats in the new parliament, a gain of 23 seats on its present numbers. The centre-right Group of the European People’s Party – currently the biggest in the Parliament with 274 seats – would lose about a quarter of its current representation, dropping to 200 seats.

The prediction of a Socialist win will be music to the ears of Martin Schulz, the Party of European Socialists’ candidate for the presidency of the European Commission. However, the gap is still quite a narrow one. The European Council is obliged to “take into account” the results of the elections when nominating a President, so there is still much to play for. Either of these two main groups could still come out on top.

In addition, there are still more than three months to go to the elections. The public mood is volatile in many large EU member states and unforeseen events can have a dramatic impact (such as the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal in the United Kingdom, which was revealed just before the European Parliament election and helped boost support for the UK Independence Party).

Outside of the big two groups, the Liberal ALDE Group would drop to 70 seats, hit by losses in the UK and Germany (each down from 12 to four seats). This would mean that the overall share of representation for the traditional big three groups would be around 65%, down from 72% in the current parliament. As a result, the share of the vote for the far left, far right and anti-Europeans would increase. PollWatch predicts that 29% of all seats will be won by parties that are critical of or opposed to the European Union.

The European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group is set to become the fourth-biggest in the Parliament with 56 seats, bolstered by a growth in support for parties in France, Germany, Greece and Spain. The Greens/European Free Alliance Group would drop to 44 seats, with France’s delegation dropping from 16 seats to five. Both the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group (42 seats) and the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) Group (30 seats) would have to fight for their existence, holding on to MEPs from just seven member states – the minimum threshold to form a group (which must also have at least 25 members).

According to the PollWatch estimates, a far-right group composed of Marine Le Pen‘s National Front (France), Geert Wilders‘ Party for Freedom (PVV, Netherlands), the Freedom Party (Austria), Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang, Belgium), the Sweden Democrats and the Northern League (Italy) is a possibility. These groups are slated to win 38 seats, but would need to secure members from seven countries. Whether such a group could last is a different question: a previous far-right group (Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty) came and went quickly in 2007 – something that is predictable with parties whose political platforms are nationalistic and often xenophobic.

Finally, there are a number of ‘x’ factors in this election, with new parties that have emerged since the last European elections likely to make significant gains. The PollWatch forecast has assumed that new MEPs from parties which are not currently affiliated to a European party or group – such as Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S) or the Czech Republic’s ANO 2011 - will sit as non-attached members. If and when their intended affiliation becomes known, the updated predictions will assign those parties’ representatives to the appropriate group. For example, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which could win seven seats, may join the ECR Group and help ensure its survival.

The next PollWatch2014 forecast will be published on Monday 3 March. There will be fortnightly updates until 3 April, after which there will be weekly updates until the elections on 22-25 May.

 

Links:

First EU-wide poll sees gains for the Socialists, no gains for PVV

Blog from Christian Feustel of Business Europe on selecting the new Commission president

Blog on Le Pen, Wilders and the chances of a far-right group being formed

Blog on the post-election party games in the European Parliament

 

 




 

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