The European Parliament has released its first projections for what the composition of the next European Parliament may look like following the upcoming elections in May. The results are nothing less than a major a warning for the European institutions as the preliminary numbers indicate that far-right, Eurosceptic parties look to make major gains across most of the EU.
The institutional, progressive forces that have dominated the European Parliament for two decades look to suffer significant losses in the May poll and are expected to fail to secure a majority. If elections were due to take place tomorrow, according to the latest estimates, the joint powers of the European People’s Party (EPP) and Social Democrats (S&D) would drop to 45.1%.
The greatest surge from the right is expected to come from Italy, where Matteo Salvini’s arch-conservative Lega, or League, party is expected to capture 21 seats. According to February’s national projections as issued by the European Parliament, this would make Salvini’s Eurosceptic/nationalist Lega members the second largest party in the next parliament after Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, which is expected to win 29 seats in total.
The European People’s Party (EPP) is still expected to be the dominant party in the next EU parliament, but its number of seats will reduce significantly, according to the latest projections. The estimates indicated that the EPP could see its representation drop from 217 to 183 if the current polls hold. The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are expected to lose even more seats, with the projections pointing to a major loss of 31 seats, which would see the S&D go from 186 to135 seats once the final election numbers are tallied.
The drop in support for the Parliament’s traditional power-brokers means that a third party will likely emerge as a kingmaker. ALDE, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, appears to be in the best position to fill the spot as it is the only pro-European party that is expected to expand its number of seats from 68 to 75, according to the projections.
The Greens/European Free Alliance will also suffer a crushing defeat as their representation is expected to drop from 52 to 45 seats, despite the increased international initiatives to combat global warming.
Not all of the Eurosceptic forces are expected to have a good showing as the leftist European United Left-Nordic Green Left will see its representation in the Parliament reduce from 52 to 46 seats. That trend will also follow the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR), which will see its numbers radically reduced by 32%, going from 75 to 51 projected seats due to the loss of the UK’s Conservatives following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in March.
The deeply anti-Brussels Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group (EFDD) is expected to see its representation grow despite the Brexit departure of its most notable member, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. From 41 to 43 seats, The EFDD and the Europe of Nations and Freedom group (ENF), will see their numbers in the next Parliament increase from 41 to 43 and 37 to 59, respectively. Both are expected to play a far greater role in the upcoming Parliament due to their increased role.
The situation is, however, not entirely clear regarding the fate of Europe’s right-wing Eurosceptic parties, which is complicating the ability to assess what the final numbers will be once the polls close in May.
Italy’s Lega and the Alternative für Deutschland, also known as the AfD, in Germany are expected to gain 11 seats even with UKIP no longer a part of the equation as a result of Brexit. If Marine Le Pen‘s National Rally in France has a better-than-expected showing, it could add six seats more seats to what could become an increasingly powerful Eurosceptic, far-right alliance in the Parliament.
Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement jointly governs with Lega and currently caucuses with UKIP and the EFDD. Recently, however, its leader, Luigi Di Maio
has looked at the possibility of joining groups that better align with its centre-left leanings. 5-Star is, according to projections, expected to gain eight seats.
Sill up-in-the-air is the future alignment of the 24 seats that belong to Poland’s ruling deeply conservative and stridently Catholic Law and Justice Party once the UK’s Tories no longer find themselves with representation in the Parliament.
Occupying the centre of the political spectrum, the18 seats that have been allocated to President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party will be added to ALDE, which would make it the third largest bloc in the next Parliament if the numbers hold. This would, in effect, make Macron’s self-described “radical centrists” the default standard-bearers in any push back against the growing tide of Eurosceptic forces that are poised to make major gains in the May elections.