Center and center-right political groups make up the majority in Parliament. Stable centre-right majorities form on economic issues, and stable center-left majorities form on social issues, with variable alliances between the two biggest groups and the Liberals and Greens.
The rise of radical groups from both the right and left of the political spectrum has been a growing concern in Brussels and other key EU capitals. In addition, it is not likely that these political parties, which have different positions on the Euro, migration, foreign and internal policy, will work together or form a coherent unit.
All signs point to these parties having more differences than similarities. As such, the western right prefers to find pro-Putin allies while the eastern right is generally anti-Russia. Fleishman Hillard , the leading EU government relations, public affairs and communications consultancy in Brussels, made a projection on the next mandate using data from public opinion polls on national parties across EU countries as a proxy for votes for parties in the European Parliament.
All of this fragmentation and instability causes uncertainty for policy-making in the next mandate, therefore there are increased efforts to get out the vote, especially among pro-European Union political actors. What to expect? From the very beginning, the European project has felt under threat to some extent, and, not surprisingly, this is the case today. In truth, the presence of populists is, and will be, more tangible in the Council than in Parliament, particularly due to voting rules. The European Council, which defines overall political guidelines, adopts them by consensus.
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The European Parliament’s role in Closer EU Integration
Reichskammergericht , January The shift has made it easier for parties to focus their EP campaigns on European rather than national issues. Putting the EU back on track will be the major issue of the debate ahead of the EP election. It is polling at 30 percent and looks set to win MEP seats in The Pirate Party made a surprise entry into parliament with two MPs out of 60 , although it is unlikely to pass the threshold for representation in the EP election.
There is a strong consensus among mainstream parties on the rule of law, migration, and further EU integration. Trade is relatively controversial, with the two left-wing parties more critical of the existing trade system than the Democratic Party. Properly speaking, there is no far-right party in Luxembourg. Malta is one of the rare spots on the European map where EP elections generate substantial debate. In all three elections since its accession to the EU, Malta has had the highest turnout of any member state aside from those that have compulsory voting. Still, turnout has been in steady decline, from 82 percent in to 75 percent in Its level this year should be comparable to that in the election, given the salience of European issues — such as the regulation of financial services, corruption, the rule of law, and irregular migration — in the Maltese political debate.
The EP election will also coincide with local council elections. High turnout should benefit the ruling centre-left Labour Party, which draws much of its support from relatively poor southern Malta. Government corruption and money-laundering will likely be the major topics of the EP election. After the Panama Papers revelations and the assassination by car bomb of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Nationalist MEPs called on the government to resign. Indeed, they are the only parties to have ever won MEP seats.
The European Parliament's Role in Closer Eu Integration
They currently have three each. No other party stands a chance in the EP election unless it is allied with one of them. As a result, the Democratic Party, together with the far-left Democratic Alternative, may sap votes from the Nationalist Party, thus granting Labour an even greater advantage. However, neither stands a chance of entering the EP. Likewise, it is highly unlikely that the centre-right Nationalist Party would countenance a coalition with either of them. Democratic Alternative is the only far-left party in Malta. It builds its platform primarily on environmental issues.
With the support of around 3 percent of the electorate, it has never entered the national parliament or the EP. Among the six founding members of the EU, the Netherlands has always had the lowest turnout in EP elections.
There are reasons to expect a slight increase in turnout this year in comparison to , when it stood at Still, the EP election may also be overshadowed by regional elections planned for spring The main dividing line may set pragmatically pro-European parties — conservative liberals and Christian Democrats, pro-European progressive liberals, and green leftists — against Eurosceptics on both sides of the political spectrum, particularly those on the far right that take up openly anti-EU positions and call for the Netherlands to leave the EU.
A few other parties in the Dutch mainstream — such as the Christian Democrats, the progressive liberal D66 party, and the Labour Party —may win seats collectively. Both parties are strongly Eurosceptic, calling for the Netherlands to leave the EU, but they compete for the same voters.
The Dutch far left also consists of two main parties: the pro-European Green Left, which is currently polling in third place with 17 percent and could win four seats; and the Socialist Party, which is critical of the EU and may win two seats. While all four parties oppose trade liberalisation, there is little chance they will cooperate with one another — most of all because the far right wants to dismantle the EU while the Socialist Party only seeks reduced EU integration.
Each of the three times Poles have voted in EP elections, turnout has been at one of the lowest levels in the EU, never exceeding 25 percent. This time, turnout should be higher — perhaps more than 30 percent. European issues have recently become central to the public debate in Poland due to rising tension between the government and EU institutions over the rule of law.
The EP vote will take place just a couple of months before a crucial parliamentary election, and a year before the presidential poll. It may also present PiS as anti-EU, in the hope of rallying support from a generally pro-European society and thus strengthening its position ahead of the general election. The opposition may flag the threat of Poland accidentally leaving the EU.
PiS thus faces a dilemma. But, at some stage, it may try to radicalise the campaign by underlining the importance of national sovereignty, defending Polish interests against alleged Franco-German domination, and presenting itself as the only real guarantee that Poland will not be overwhelmed by Muslim immigrants.
The European Court of Justice is likely to rule before the election that Poland is in breach of the rule of law, which could affect both the campaign and the results. Both these parties cooperate closely with PO as part of the pro-European opposition. There is currently no left or centre-left party in the Polish parliament.
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According to some polls, Wiosna is projected to come third in the EP election, with more than ten percent of votes. PiS is currently the most important soft Eurosceptic party in Poland. Other radical right parties including Liberty, a member of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group are trying to create a common list, which may enable them to pass the threshold for representation in the EP.
While the Portuguese tend to be more enthusiastic about the European project than most other Europeans, voter turnout in EP elections is relatively low and declining in Portugal, from 40 percent in to just under 34 percent in However, if the EP election become something of a rehearsal for the national electoral contest, the campaign will focus on national issues. This may be even more likely given that European issues create little political polarisation in Portugal.
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Immigration is unlikely to be a central issue, as there is a strong domestic political consensus that Portugal must receive and integrate migrants. They poll at around percent and percent of the vote respectively. This should provide them with ten and six MEP seats respectively. They share a significant pro-European consensus, including on trade, migration, and the rule of law.
However, in the last general election, held in , the Socialist Party reached an unprecedented agreement with far-left parties to sustain a parliamentary alliance, breaking its year practice of not allying with parties to its left. Because it experienced many decades of authoritarian rule, Portugal has no far right.
Having flirted with Euroscepticism in the mids, CDS has now firmly abandoned it and is committed to a pro-EU agenda and to the defence of transatlantic relations.