If European elections were held on Sunday… Greens gain ground

By Manuel Müller
Historian and political scientist Manuel Müller has been regularly producing seat projections for the European elections since 2014.

With just over a year to go until the June 6-9, 2024 European elections, the tone between European parties is gradually getting harsher. At the beginning of May, Iratxe García Pérez, the Socialist group leader in the European Parliament, said that “cooperation is no longer possible” with the Christian Democratic EPP. Frans Timmermans, Commission Vice President and Socialist frontrunner in 2019, followed suit, warning of a “new political dynamic” in which the EPP “looks more to the right.”

EPP press spokesman Pedro López de Pablo rejected Timmerman’s statement and, conversely, accused the Social Democratic S&D Group of being close to the “extreme left.” Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister, EPP Vice-President and former EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani aggressively promoted increased cooperation between the EPP and the right-wing ECR group.

Informal alliance between EPP and S&D

However, it is unlikely that the informal alliance of EPP and S&D, which has always been at the center of majority formation in the European Parliament, is really at an end. In fact, the S&D once proclaimed the “end of the grand coalition” back in 2016, without much of a change in practice. The EU is structurally based on consensus: Majorities in the European Parliament that exclude one of the major parties are selectively possible, but not sustainable in the long term. This is already evident in the top candidate procedure, in which the Parliament only has a chance against the European Council if it presents a united front.

However, such an announcement is a poor way to run an election campaign. A certain degree of polarization and conflict is necessary so that voters can recognize differences between parties. And so it is part of the ritual that the EPP and S&D publicly declare their mutual dislike before the European elections – only to quickly get back together to be able to act in Parliament.

Majority ratios are tighter

In addition, the polls this year are also tighter than in many previous rounds of elections. If the European elections were held now, the EPP would have 162 seats in the base scenario of the seat projection, and the S&D would have 137 (both unchanged from the last projection at the end of March). In the dynamic scenario – which takes into account possible faction entries by national parties that could win seats for the first time in the European election – the EPP’s cushion is somewhat more comfortable (172 to 137 seats). But this election is far from decided.

However, it is already becoming clear that an alliance of the EPP and S&D alone will not be sufficient. In the 2019 European elections, the grand coalition lost its majority in the European Parliament for the first time and has since been dependent on cooperation with the liberal Renew Europe (RE) group or the Greens. This is unlikely to change in the future.

In the current projection, the Liberals lose slightly and have 92 seats (-2 compared with March, dynamic scenario: 99 seats). Formally, they would still be the third-strongest parliamentary group. However, their key position in the center of the European party system means their actual influence is significantly greater, as not only the grand coalition but also almost any possible center-left or center-right alliance requires their support.

Best result in two years for the Greens

The Greens, on the other hand, are in a lot of trouble in their stronghold of Germany. In many other EU member states, however, they have made gains in recent weeks, so that they now climb to 50 seats in the projection (+8, dynamic: 54). This is their best figure in two years. The European Left has also made recent gains following poll losses in the spring and now has 49 seats (+5, dynamic: 50). This is roughly in line with its long-term average in this election period.

On the right of the political spectrum, the traditionally pro-NATO right-wing EKR continues to outpace the traditionally pro-Russia ID: EKR comes to 79 seats (+1), ID to 67 (-1). In the dynamic scenario, which takes into account the possible accession of the currently non-factional Hungarian ruling party Fidesz to the ID, the latter is still just ahead of the EKR (83 to 82 seats). The number of non-factional deputies falls to 33 (-5), in the dynamic scenario even to 28.

Aggregated national polls and election results

Since there are no pan-European election polls, the seat projection is based on aggregated national polls and election results from all member states. In the baseline scenario, all national parties are each assigned to their current parliamentary group (or to the parliamentary group of their European umbrella party); parties without a clear European assignment are shown as “other”. The dynamic scenario assigns all “other” parties in each case to a parliamentary group that they could plausibly join and also includes other possible changes in the parliamentary groups.

More details on the data basis and methodology of the projection as well as a breakdown of the results by individual national parties can be found on the blog “The (European) Federalist.”

Manuel Müller is Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) in Helsinki and runs the blog “The (European) Federalist”. He publishes his projection on the European election on his blog and at Table.Media.


    What’s cooking in Brussels? Fear of the farmers
    Africa strategy – between impotence and pragmatism
    More cooperation with the world’s smallest power
    How to turn away from the ideology of unlimited growth