Europe 2009: First Predictions
Seeing as we’re only about six months from the 2009 EU elections, which is one of the greatest elections in the world (27 countries voting on one day!), might be time for some early (and certainly not final) predictions. I won’t go into actual seat predictions and toy around with percentages yet as we don’t know who will run and who will not run, so this is just some general stuff on who will come first and so forth.
December 27, 2008 Predictions (as of now, with current polling and situation)
Austria (19): SPÖ defeats ÖVP. The FPÖ will likely do very well (potentially going back to its 1999 level) and so will the BZÖ, if they run. The combined fascist vote could even be higher than all other parties. HPM’s anti-corruption list could stay in, but they seem likely to lose a few votes. At worst, they could get wiped out. Save for HPM, it could be a repeat of 1999 for some parties (especially the top three, perhaps). SPÖ (PES)
Belgium (22): Hard to predict. The CDV and any Flemish non-radical right-wing party will lose votes in Flanders, and the liberal MR will lose some in Wallonia too, but less so. That should benefit the Walloon Christiandems, CDH. The Flemish far-right nats, Vlaams Belang should do kind of well, as will the VLD. The two greenie parties, who lost ground in 2004, could probably be the real winners, especially the French Ecolo, which is over 15% in polls. The Flemish Pym Fortuyn-like Ljist Dedecker should do very well, possibly third in Flanders. Polls have them at around 16%, which is up 10% compared to the 2007 situation. Split situation (CDV in Flanders, PS in Wallonia)
Bulgaria (18): The BSP government seems cursed as all other Bulgarian governments in the past in that they never win re-election. The new GERB, an EPP member, which won the 2007 by-election will likely do so again and probably gain votes. The Turkish minority MRF is hard to predict, since they always find a way to cheat in order to win more votes. Unless they cheat as they did in 2007, they won’t win 20% again and will probably win only 8-10% (granted that they don’t fudge the results). The NDSV will collapse and lose its sole MEP. Ataka will lose votes too, but not as much as NDSV will. GERB (EPP)
Cyprus (6): Very little to back up this prediction, but juding from Christofias’ very high popularity (75%), the communist AKEL could win big here. AKEL (EUL-NGL)
Czech Republic (22): ČSSD did awful in 2004 (8%), when they formed government nationally, but the conservative ODS won the 2006 election, and is now the unpopular party. ČSSD will win easily, and the Communist Party, which did abnormally well in 2004 (mostly normal ČSSD voters), will fall back to normal levels (a bit above 10%). Hard to predict for the SNK, but they could either do well (disenchanted ODS voters) or poorly (2006 electoral levels). The Greenies could win some seats. ČSSD (PES)
Denmark (13): The governing Venstre (Liberals) trails the opposition Social Democrats in polls by a few points, so it looks like the Social Democrats will win, as they did in 2004. SF could be the big winner here, possibly taking up to 18% or even 20% (though that’s a tad unlikely). Hard to predict how all the anti-EU parties will do (June Movement, N and so forth). The Social Liberal will lose votes. SD (PES)
Estonia (6): Seems to be a close race between the Centre and Reform, both ALDE members. The Social Democrats will collapse after their 2004 victory. Centre seems favoured. Politics have changed a lot here since 2004. KESK-Centre (ELDR)
Finland (13): As in 2004, you probably won’t see a clear winner coming out of this one, as Finnish elections are often close three-way ties (between conservatives, Centre, and the SDs). In fact, the 2007 election went something like Centre 23%, conservatives 22%, SDs 21%. The conservative National Coalition (KOK) has a 1% or so lead in national polling, with Centre second and SDs close third. The election could be very similar to 2004. KOK (EPP)
France (74): I suspect I’ll post a long post on my French elections blog in a little while on this, so I won’t write a lot here. PS narrowly wins against the UMP (improving on its disastrous 2004 result), but third parties do well. The far-left (NPA) could re-enter parliament, with the PCF and MPF at risk of losing all their seats. PS (PES)
Germany (96): Could be similar to 2004 in a few ways with the now-governing CDU/CSU winning by a healthy margin, but the FDP could do significantly better if its high poll ratings translate into EU support, as could Die Linke. About the usual levels for the Greenies, maybe a bit lower than in 2004 (10% instead of 12%). CDU/CSU (EPP)
Greece (22): Important PASOK victory over the corrupt ND government. However, in terms of actual votes, the PASOK won’t do ridiculously well (and could even lose some votes and seats), but smaller and more extremist parties (KKE, LAOS, and SYRIZA [radical left]) doing exceptionally well. Combined KKE and SYRIZA could very well be in the 25-30% range. The Greenies, a new party, might (big might) even win seats. A few polls put them in the 4-5% range recently. ND will obviously be the biggest loser (they won 43% in 2004, and could win something like 30% this time). PASOK (PES)
Hungary (22): The MSZP (socialist) government is overwhelmingly hated, and Fidesz is overwhelmingly popular. They’re at 60% in polls. Fidesz will easily win, probably with over 50% of the votes, if not 60%, while the two smaller parties (MDF and SZDSZ, the MSZP’s junior coalition partner) could potentially be wiped out. Fidesz (EPP)
Ireland (12): Fine Gael victory. The FF government is quite unpopular, and Fine Gael is even the first party in polls (something that is quite rare in Irish elections). Labour (FG’s traditional coalition partner) could also gain, though Sinn Fein could fall from a rare 11% in 2004 to lower usual levels (around 7-8%). Not really related per se to actual votes, but it’ll be interesting to see where Fianna Fail will go after the election: its current Gaullist grouping, UEN, is likely to die out in 2009, and a Europhile party like FF doesn’t fit very well into a Euroskeptic grouping like this one. It attempted to join ELDR in 2004, and it could do so after this election. FG (EPP)
Italy (73): The PdL is likely to win a relatively strong victory, after “losing” (FI+AN: 31.6%, Olive: 31.1%) to the left in 2004. However, Italian political parties have changed remarkably in five years, with a lot of parties now dead or significantly weakened while other parties are significantly stronger or entirely new. Will be interesting to see if the Rainbow Left parties (both Commie parties and the Greenies) run together or not. Separately, they won 10.9% all together in 2004, and that could likely be halved in 2009. Look out for the Lega Nord and the autonomists. LN did very well in recent regional elections in Trentino and MPA did surprisingly well in Abruzzo a few weeks ago. They could make some strong gains. Expect those tiny parties to lose their MEPs, unless they conclude an alliance with the PdL or PD. PdL (EPP)
Latvia (9): Hard to predict too. The 2004 winner, Fatherland and Freedom, probably won’t win this year as they’re quite weaker now. No polls to be seen out of here, so I’m going to predict a victory for the governing People’s Party. The Union of Greens and Farmers could make gains, while the Russian minority party (PCTVL) and national-conservative New Era could lose lots of ground. TP (EPP)
Lithuania (12): The only thing to base this prediction on is the recent general election. If those results are any indication, the EPP member Homeland Union – Christian Democrats could “win” (they won less than 20% in the general election). The Labour Party (which, don’t be fooled, isn’t a left-wing party) which won the 2004 elections could lose a lot of its seats. Politics have changed a lot since 2004 here. TS-LKD (EPP)
Luxembourg (6): Hard to predict, but I would say that the CSV will win re-election since the CSV almost always win Luxembourgish elections. The liberal Democratic Party could lose its only seat, but that isn’t extremely likely. The Greens don’t see to have a lot of space to expand further than their record 15% in 2004. Luxembourg doesn’t have weird results that come as a result of low turnout, since voting is compulsory. CSV (EPP)
Malta (6): Another country that’s hard to predict. The Labour Party won the 2004 election against the Nationalists, but the Nationalists narrowly won re-election in a general election this year. Predicting a Labour victory until polls are published. PL (PES)
Netherlands (26): Very narrow CDA (Christian Democratic) victory over PvdA (Labour), as in 2004. Wilder’s Party for Freedom could do quite well, as could D66, which seems to be in an upwards swing (D66 has the most volatile electoral base ever). If the national-conservative outfit called ToN (Proud of the Netherlands) runs, it would do poorly. They’re collapsing in current polls. CDA (EPP)
Poland (51): Turnout gives weird results here, as seen in 2004. So take these with a grain of salt. Maybe a bag of salt. The PO government is overwhelmingly popular in polls, and unless turnout is weird or they become unpopular before June, the PO could win a huge victory (possibly over 50% of the votes). PiS would come second. The People’s Party and whatever the divided lefties are calling themselves (Democratic Left, I think it is now) will probably perform under the 10% mark. The Bible-bashers (LPR) and the kooky nat Samoobrona will likely lose all their seats after doing quite well in 2004. PO (EPP)
Portugal (22): The governing Socialists (PS) are relatively popular, so they are likely to win, though they might lose votes and seats compared to nearly 45% in 2004. Remains to be seen whether or not the Social Democrats (what the Portuguese conservatives call themselves, ironically) and the People’s Party run together or not. Together, they could come close the PS. Maybe even come out on top. PS (PES)
Romania (33): Hard to say, given that the last general election was quite tight. Going to say PD-L until we can get a clearer idea of how the new government does and when we know the lists. Anyways, it looks tight between PD-L and PSD. PD-L (EPP)
Slovakia (13): The current Smer (social democratic) government is very popular, and will win quite easily. The fascist SNS, Smer’s disturbing coalition partner, could come a very distant second. Smer (PES)
Slovenia (8): The Social Democrats won the recent elections in 2008, so that’s possibly the best guide to predict until polls come out. Another country where the political scene has changed a lot since 2004. SD (PES)
Spain (54): The troubles in financeland and its effects on the Spanish economy have seriously hurt the PSOE government. No real polls have come out since the March election, but the PSOE government has negative approval ratings. The Popular Party, the main conservative party, which is quite disturbing, could win. The nationalist parties of all stripes, whether the Catalonian nats (ERC), autonomists (CiU), or the Basque nats (EAJ-PNV) are losing popular support, so they stand to lose a few seats. But maybe since the PP is very weak in Catalonia and Euskadi, and the Socialists are the main opposition, they could hold on. The Basque elections in March 2009 will tell us more. The United Left (IU), of which the Communist Party is the main component, is in a downwards swing and could lose votes and perhaps, big perhaps, all of its MEPs. PP (EPP)
Sweden (20): The current centre-right government currently trails the opposition Red-Green coalition in polls, as most Swedish centre-right governments usually end up doing. However, the gap between opposition and government has been narrowed significantly due to the economic crisis and the fact that the Social Democrat’s leader is quite goofy. As it stands now, however, the Social Democrats are likely to win. It’s hard to predict how the June List (a Euroskeptic list that won 15% in 2004, but less than 1% when running the 2006 elections) will do. It could either collapse or remain at current levels. All major parties will want to improve on their 2004 result, or else, they would be quite humiliated (all parties got their lowest result ever since 19__ in 2004). SD (PES)
United Kingdom (73): A few months ago, it would have been easy to predict this: large Tory victory. However, Labour has significantly rebounded since the troubles in financeland and they only narrowly trail the Tories in polls. The Tories are still likely to win, but as it stands right now, not overwhelmingly. Both Labour and the Tories will increase their vote share, the LibDems will likely hold stable or make minimal gains in votes. All this to the detriment of the UKIP, which, judging by its collapse in the GLA elections this year, could suffer quite a defeat. The SNP and Plaid could also gain, and in the case of the SNP, some important gains in votes. The fascist/racist BNP could also win seats, as this is a proportional system. They won a bit less than 5% in 2004. Conservative (ED)
Take all this with a grain of salt. These predictions will be updated a bit later on as we get a good idea of the lists actually running, any joint coalitions, polling, and political developments. On another note, since EU turnout is at a joke-level in many countries, low turnout creates weird results with the kookiest of parties doing well and some established parties doing awful.
Europe-wide, a topic very rarely talked about by the locally-obsessed national media, there could be interesting changes in the parliamentary groups. The Gaullist-oriented national-conservative UEN, whose top two parties are the Irish Fianna Fail, the Polish PiS, and the Italian National Alliance could very well disappear in 2009. FF is a centrist pro-European party, so it’s place in the UEN is a bit odd to start out with. They already tried to join ELDR in 2004. The National Alliance merged with Forza Italia in 2007 under the tin pot name People of Liberty (PdL) and PdL will inherit FI’s EPP membership. PiS could join another grouping in 2009, and the two other Polish members, Samoobrona and LPR, will likely get creamed and lose everything. The current UEN has 44 MEPs, if you substract 4 FF, 8 AN, 4 Latvian MEPs, 7 PiS, 5 LPR, 5 Samoobrona, and 3 rump Polish MEPs, you’re left with only 8 UEN MEPs. You need 20 MEPs for a group. On top of that, the Italian Lega Nord is uncomfortable in the UEN and may try re-joining the regionalist EFA, though they might get rejected since they’re racist xenophobes. A few of the remaining UEN MEPs, if there are any after June 2009, might join Independence/Democracy, another Euroskeptic group.
The British Tories/Ulster Unionists and the Czech ODS are talking about leaving the European Democrats, a conservative Euroskeptic body attached to EPP, to form a new group/party, the Movement for European Reform (MER). The Polish PiS is interested, as is a UEN-member Latvian party. Without the Tories and ODS, the EUDemocrats would be left with one Italian MEP, and would be dissolved.