As European citizens will elect a new European Parliament between 23 and 26 May, some might wonder what the results would be. Voters in each of the bloc’s 28 Member States vote for their national parties, whose MEPs then form pan-European groups along rough ideological lines to work together in the European Parliament. With 1 day until voting begins, polls suggest the center-right European Peoples’ Party (EPP) and center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) are likely to remain the largest groups in the European Parliament but are likely to lose their combined majority for the first time.
This year, the two main parties are indeed expected to lose seats. According to the latest polls, the EPP is expected to drop from 217 in 2014 to 171. The S&D will also be reduced as it would go from 188 seats in 2014 to 144. Combined, they would then lose around 87 seats which would imply that they would not be able to form a majority as they would have a shortage of 61 seats. In this regard, the Alliance of the Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) would find itself in a strong position, particularly since Emmanuel Macron’s party La République en Marche declared it was going to join the liberal political group. Together with the French party, the new ALDE group is indeed expected to have 107 seats and to consequently become the ‘kingmaker’.
With reference to the Greens, the Greens/EFA could benefit from the recent successes of Green parties across Europe (in Germany and Belgium for instance) and reach 56 seats in the next European Parliament. However, a potential majority between the EPP, the S&D and the Greens would not be possible as they would not reach the 50% threshold. In this context, Frans Timmermans’ dream of forming a ‘progressive alliance’ seems to be wishful thinking, at least according to the polls.
Currently divided between three groups, Eurosceptic and anti-immigration parties look set to make the greatest gains. After the elections, some of these parties intend to form a new group, the ‘European Alliance of Peoples and Nations’, led by Italian Minister for Domestic Affairs Matteo Salvini. Even with the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) leaving the EFDD to form its own group, Salvini’s group is now projected to have 74 seats and will consequently be the fourth biggest in the next European Parliament.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and other unaffiliated parties also contribute to the traditional political groups with some seats: the eventual exit of the United Kingdom will be detrimental to the total number of seats of both the S&D and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the latter being already projected to be the fifth biggest group.
As a conclusion, one can expect the European Parliament, particularly because of Eurosceptic parties, to be more fragmented than ever, leading to no clear and logical majority in sight.