Daily Archives: May 31, 2009
Germany, which has the largest delegation to the European Parliament with 99 seats, will vote on June 7, along with a number of other countries. Unlike most other large countries, Germany’s delegation size will not be reduced, as it had 99 MEPs at the time of the 2004 election.
Germany uses a nationwide constituency with a 5% threshold for seats. However, there is a regional element in that parties may run purely regional list, multi-regional lists, or national lists.
At the time of the 2004 election, the Social Democrats (SPD) under Gerhard Schröder were the largest party in a Red-Green coalition. At the time, Schröder’s SPD was massively unpopular and trailed the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister, the Christian Social Union (CSU) by a wide margin. The SPD narrowed the gap with the CDU-CSU later and was only narrowly defeated by the CDU-CSU in the September 2005 federal elections. As a result, Angela Merkel (CDU) became Chancellor of a Grand Coalition government with the SPD. New elections are due in September 2009.
The 2004 results represented the SPD’s lowest point since 1945. These lost votes went mainly to the Greens, who won their best European result ever and also the Linke.PDS, the post-communist party based in East Germany. The votes for the CDU/CSU also fell from a highpoint in 1999, allowing the liberal FDP to win seats for the first time since 1989.
CDU 36.51% winning 40 seats (-3)
SPD 21.52% winning 23 seats (+10)
The Greens 11.94% winning 13 seats (+6)
CSU 8.00% winning 9 seats (-1)
PDS 6.12% winning 7 seats (+1)
FDP 6.07% winning 7 seats (+7)
The Republicans (Nazis-lite) 1.88%
Since I miss the Weimar parties, I’ll note that the Catholic Zentrum (which used to be one of Weimar’s main parties and a basis for most government) polled 0.1% of the votes.
The SPD can only improve on its disastrous 2004 result. However, the governing CDU-CSU is still far ahead of the weak SPD in national polling. Angela Merkel’s CDU has been the one benefiting from the government’s good decisions, even if they may have been made by SPD cabinet ministers.
The CDU-CSU, which won 44.5% in 2004 has obviously seen it’s share of the vote dip to roughly 37-39%, to the benefit of the SPD, which has rebounded to 25-28%, a relatively weak rebounce considering how poorly it did in 2004. It will be hard for the Greens to hold their nearly 12% of the vote, though polls indicated they should either dip slightly to 10-11% or hold steady at 12-13%. However, polls tend to overestimate the Greens, though they also overestimated the CDU-CSU and SPD in 2004. The FDP and Linke closely follow each other, though the liberal FDP, on an upswing these days, is at 9-10%. Polling 9 or 10% would the FDP’s best Euro result ever. Linke would also have it’s best result (though they’re only running in these elections since re-unification), with polling indicating around 7-8%.
In terms of top candidates, the CDU and SPD have unsurprisingly picked some big names: Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament, for the CDU and Martin Schulz, the leader of the PES caucus for the SPD. The Greenies, FDP, and CSU have opted for MEPs, while the Linke top candidate is a Bundestag rep, Lothar Bisky. Bisky immigrated to East Germany at 18.
An interesting situation may be arising in Bavaria, regarding the 5% threshold. The threshold is a national threshold, so the CSU needs to break 5% in Germany as a whole rather than in Bavaria alone. Current polls all put the CSU at 6% and a poll just in Bavaria puts them at 44% there. While it is unlikely the CSU will drop below that, it is a possibility for the first time ever. Indeed, the Freie Wähler, the independent coalition which ate up a lot of CSU votes in 2008 is running, with its top candidate being the former CSU maverick Gabriele Pauli. Pauli notably supports the transformation of marriage into a seven-year renewable contract.
These elections are widely seen as a major test for the CDU-CSU in the run-up to the September federal elections. The CDU wants to end the Grand Coalition with the SPD and return to a traditional right-wing coalition between the Christian democrats and the FDP. The SPD optimally wants a new Red-Green coalition with the Greenies, though it is extremely unlikely the SPD and Greenies will win a majority together. The question is whether the CDU-CSU and FDP will have a majority or if another Grand Coalition will be necessary. Party analysts and media talking heads will obviously tally up the votes in this election in an attempt to answer that, even though Euros are different than federal elections.
My final predictions, less than one week before voting opens officialy in a few countries on June 4. This post is especially long.
Austria: As in other countries, the major (in this case, governing) parties took a drop these last few days in polling. The conservative ÖVP, the junior partner in the Grand Coalition, is now below 30%, with about 28-27%, slightly ahead or tied with its partner, the Social Democrats (SPÖ). This drop has resulted in a strenghtening of the vote for the far-right FPÖ (15-16%) and also for the Martin List, which has surged to around 13-15%. The Greens remain flat at 10%, which is their median (and close to their floor… and ceiling). Jorg Haider’s BZÖ will probably be right at the 4% threshold or above, and they’ll win one MEP. ÖVP (EPP)
Belgium: Belgium runs as if it were two independent countries, so I’ll treat this prediction the same way. In Flanders, the CDV should bleed a lot of votes compared to 2004, but should come out narrowly on top. The race for second will be played between the Liberal Democrats (VLD) whose top-candidate, former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is extremely popular in Flanders; and the far-right nationalist Vlaams Belang. The Fortuynist Lijst Dedecker, a nationalist list led by a former VLD Senator has dropped considerably, and is probably fifth overall, behind the Socialists, who have also dropped since their excellent result in 2004. However, Dedecker’s relatively good numbers (11%) hinders the far-right nationalist Vlaams Belang somewhat. The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), allied with the CDV in 2004 but independent this year, will fight hard to cross the threshold. Overall, the CDV should poll roughly 19-22%, the VLD around 16-19%, the VB around 14-16%, the Socialists 12-14%, Dedecker between 10% and 12%, the Greenies around 8-9% and the N-VA between 6% and 9%. CDV (EPP) In Wallonia, the Socialists, in the middle of yet another corruption scandal, are tied with the liberal Reformers (MR) and… the Greenies. A most recent poll in Wallonia gives the PS and MR at 26% each, with the Greenies trailing closely with 24%. In Bruxelles, the race is between the MR and the Greenies. The race is very hard to call between the PS and the MR, and the Greenies may actually win too! Calling it for the MR, may be wrong. MR (ELDR) CDV (EPP) overall (Belgium-wide)
Bulgaria: The opposition, GERB, should easily win, running atleast 8 to 10 points ahead of the governing Socialists (BSP). GERB should considerably improve on its 2007 by-election result, while the main loser will probably be the Turkish DPS, unless we witness yet another excellent vote management/busing people for Turkey effot by the DPS. GERB (EPP)
Cyprus: No polls have been published to my knowledge, but I assume Christofias maintains a good approval rating, and this should theoretically benefit his Communist Party, AKEL. AKEL (EUL)
Czech Republic: The Social Democrats, ČSSD, are roughly tied with the formerly governing Civic Democrats (ODS). The ODS seems to have come back from badly trailing the ČSSD while Topolanek was still Prime Minister. The new caretaker government does not seem to have hurt either the ČSSD or ODS, unsurprisingly. The Communists (KSČM) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) should keep representation, although both will lose votes compared to 2004. While the Greenies will come in, the SNK-European Democrats, which came third in 2004, will be eliminated. ČSSD (PES)
Denmark: Denmark’s new Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen did not destroy the governing Venstre’s position in polls, albeit it still trails to opposition Social Demcrats (SD). Compared to 2004, the SDs should drop from their high point that year (32.6%) to around 25-27%, while the Venstre should win between 20 and 24%. The Conservatives, Socialists, and Populists (far-right) should improve on their 2004 results, while the two anti-EU outfits as well as the Social Liberals should lose votes. It is important to cite (I just learned this too) that Denmark uses surplus votes in EU elections. The Social Democrats, Socialists, and Social Liberals have formed a electoral alliance, meaning that surplus will get distributed inside those parties, allowing the very weak Social Liberals to keep an MEP. The two anti-EU outfits have also formed an alliance, practically guaranteeing one (maybe both, but that’s uncertain) of them an MEP. Probably People’s Movement against the EU, the most left-wing of the two. SD (PES)
Estonia: The opposition Centre Party has been losing some ground in recent polls, and the governing Reform comes back on top of the game, with a close political divide between the two. If polls are to be trusted, I place Reform between 30 and 33%, the Centre between 28 and 31%. The Social Democrats, who won in 2004 because of their wildly popular top candidate, now-President Toomas Ilves, will drop significantly from their abnormaly high 2004 result to saner results, between 11 and 14%. The conservative Fatherland thingee should lose votes, but hold their MEP. The Greenies will do well, but they probably won’t win any seats. Reform (ELDR)
Finland: The conservative KOK should get first, ahead of the opposition Social Democrats, and the senior government party, the Centre. The True Finns (nationalists) should win their first MEP. While the Swedish People’s Party will probably lose its MEP, the Greens and Left League should hold their ground well. KOK (EPP)
France: See separate post. UMP (EPP)
Germany: The CDU/CSU should have no problems coming out on top, although the Social Democrats will obviously improve on their disastrous 2004 results, while the CDU/CSU will undoubtedly take a hit. The CDU seems to be rebouding a bit, with the combined CDU/CSU polling at around 37-39%, still below their 44.5% in 2004 but a good result for a senior governing party in a country hard-hit by the recession. While the Greenies are holding remarkably well at around 12%, their 2004 level, the FDP and Linke, both at 9%, are gaining compared to their 6% in 2004. In Bavaria, the CSU continues the downwards trend observed in the 2008 Landtag election, when it dropped below 50%. A poll placed it at 44%, roughly it’s 2008 level, but much lower than it’s 2004 level (57.5%). Freie Wähler, the independent coalition which ate up a lot of CSU votes in 2008 is running, with its top candidate being the former CSU maverick Gabriele Pauli... More in a longer, special post for Germany. CDU/CSU (EPP)
Greece: PASOK is holding relatively steady, but there’s definitely no love for them either, even though there’s also a lot of discontent in the governing conservative ND. There isn’t much love for the radical left or radical right either. The Communist Party and the Radical Left will either continue flat or slide down slightly. The Popular Orthodox Rally, LAOS, is losing its popularity in polls and its seat could be in danger. The main winners are the Greenies, which I mentioned in my last post. Back then I was cautious, saying that they would have a hard time getting a second seat. Today, they’re riding third in polls and could even break 10% and win 2 seats. Remarkable for a party which won 0.7% in 2004 and barely 1% in the 2007 election. The political discontent in Greece is not only discontent with ND, it’s a discontent with every party, rightfully so. And this clearly benefits the Greenies. The Greens are a force to watch for in Greece. PASOK (PES)
Hungary: I doubt anybody that is reasonably sane could disagree with the assessment that Fidesz will win a huge victory in Hungary. The debate is over whether or not they break 70% – not 60%. The new Prime Minister hasn’t done anything to help the Socialists (MSZP), who are going to get eaten alive brutally on election day by Fidesz. There is a 5% national threshold, and so far only Fidesz and the MSZP are clearing it. If one minor party clears it, it will be the far-right Jobbik. Remarkable how Hungary seems to be transforming into a tw0-party country. Fidesz (EPP)
Ireland: Fianna Fáil will take a large hit in these elections, with the possibility of falling third behind Fine Gael and Labour. However, since Ireland has a small delegation and uses STV, seat counts may end up differently. At this moment, despite polling well, Fine Gael could lose a seat, falling from 5 to 4. Fianna Fáil will win around three, though falling to 2 or rising to 4 is not out of the question. Labour will gain Fine Gael’s lost seat, giving them a second seat. In the South, Labour has a chance at snatching a potential third seat from Kathy Sinnott, an Independent supported by Libertas. Sinn Féin might run into sum problems with Fianna Fáil in Dublin, but should hold its seat. While the first Independent, Marian Harkin should be safe, Kathy Sinnott will need to fight Labour hard, as mentioned earlier. On a side note, it’s make-or-die for the leader and founder of Libertas, Declan Ganley in the North-West. Polls place him at 9%, which makes it unlikely that he would win, but he could get some anti-Lisbon transfers from the Shinners… A post concerning this election, local elections, and two Dublin by-elections held the same day will be made a bit later this week. Fine Gael (EPP)
Italy: The question now is not whether Berlusconi will win (Berlusconi is the PdL’s top candidate in this election) but whether PdL will break 40% of the votes. The weak and divided opposition, the Democratic Party, is fighting to break 25% and saw as many MEPs it can. In addition to PdL’s potential 40%+ result, PdL’s junior coalition partner, the nasty Lega Nord is polling over 10% nationally (signaling very disturbing results, 25-35% range in Padania for the Lega). The PD might take solace in seeing it’s quirky little ally, the anti-corruption Italia dei Valori of judge Antonio di Pietro, polling a good result, 7 or 8%. The Christian democrats (UDC) are hovering above the new 4% threshold and should save a few seats. The far-left and the Communists, shut out of Parliament for the first time since atleast 1946 in 2008, formed two coalitions to clear the 4% threshold. Ironically, the fact that they formed two of equal strength seems to be killing their chances at a good resistance this year. The first coalition, Sinistra e libertà, composed of the PS, Democratic Left (Communist dissidents) and the Greenies, is polling around 2-3.5% right now, which would kill the PS and Greenie MEPs. The other coalition, the classical Communist one composed of the Refoundation Communists and the Italian Communists is slightly ahead of Sinistra e libertà, and is polling between 2 and 4%. The magic threshold is 4%, and the Communist coalition will have to fight very hard to make it, but they probably will fall short. PdL (EPP)
Latvia: Latvia has been one of the European countries hardest hit by the financial crisis. Opinion polling is hard to come by. There has been one poll, which puts the Harmony Centre, a Russian-minority party in the lead, with the conservative opposition New Era second. Harmony Centre should sit with the PES. However, Latvia has only 8 MEPs and due to the fragmentation of politics here, it is very likely that the winning party will win only one of the eight seats. SC (PES)
Lithuania: Remarkable political stability in Lithuania! The governing Homeland Union (TS-LKD) is still leading, with like 15 or 17%. The far-right Order and Justice is second, the opposition Social Democrats are third. No Lithuanian party will break 20%, and a number of parties will be sharing Lithuania’s 12 seats in Bruxelles. TS-LKD (EPP)
Luxembourg: Polls are very hard to find in Luxembourg, though I think it’s very likely the CSV will win. There should be little or no movement in terms of seats. CSV (EPP)
Malta: Labour is far ahead of the governing Nationalist Party, and the green party, AD, is down significantly from the 10% they were lucky to poll in 2004. The probable split is yet another 3/2 for Labour. Labour (PES)
Netherlands: There was some speculation as to if Geert Wilder’s far-right PVV could top the poll, seeing as some (generally bad) pollsters have them leading all other parties. Thankfully, he probably won’t. The sane parties, the Christian Democrats (CDA) should get first and Labour (PvdA) will fight PVV for second, though I think Labour will end up second in the long run. A poll indicates that PVV might be only in fourth place, behind the ‘liberal’ VVD. Apart from PVV, D66 will be the other main winner in this election. The SP will manage a few percentage points higher, but will probably stay under 10%. ChristianUnion-SGP (electoral alliance between slightly sane Christian right [CU] and totally insane ultra-orthodox Calvinist Christian right that closes party website on Sundays [SGP]) should perform at its 2004 levels. The liberal-conservative VVD should suffer, as will the governing CDA and PvdA. CDA (EPP)
Poland: I think, like Hungary, it’s certain beyond all reasonable doubt that the governing PO will win massively. The question here is if they break 50%. While early polls gave them a good chance, they probably won’t. The far-right will get wiped out. But, as I said in December: Turnout gives weird results here, as seen in 2004. So take these with a grain of salt. Maybe a bag of salt. PO (EPP)
Portugal: These elections will be a dry-run for the September general elections in Portugal. The governing Socialists (PS) are likely to pull first place again, ahead of the conservative Social Democrats (PSD). However, the PS is unlikely to keep the 45% it won and 2004 and it’s large delegation. The PSD will trail the PS, but do relatively well. The main winners will be the Left Bloc (the libertarian part of the far-left), which could double its vote-share and the Communist-led Communist-Green CDU, which will poll slightly more than its 2004 result (9%). If the conservative CDS/PP will not ally itself with the PSD this year and will poll relatively badly. PS (PES)
Romania: The governing coalition, and especially Prime Minister Emil Boc (Democratic-Liberal, PD-L) is unpopular, although the government parties remain in front. However, the race is between Boc’s party and the senior governing party, the PD-L and the Social Democrats (PSD). The race will definitely be a race to watch, though I predict the PSD will poll first. The opposition National Liberals are likely to improve on their pretty low 2007 results, as will the Hungarian UDMR. The far-right Greater Romania (PRM) crowd will likely get in, unlike in 2007, a very bad year for the PRM (2008 was hardly better). The PRM will be right above the 5% threshold. The President’s daughter, Elena Băsescu, who has no program and is running on her looks and name could well break 5% and be elected MEP. The Hungarian Independent, László Tőkés who got 3.4% in 2007 is not running for re-election. His votes should help the UDMR. PSD (PES)
Slovakia: It’s obvious the governing social “democratic” Smer wins by a large, large margin over the opposition conservative SDKÚ-DS. The main losers should be all the EPP parties, SDKÚ-DS, Mečiar’s ĽS-HZDS (which will be suffering massive loses), Christian Democrats, and the Hungarian MKP. Smer’s fascist friends, the SNS, should have little trouble getting past the 5% threshold. The SNS could even win 2 seats, though probably not second ahead of SDKÚ-DS. Smer (PES)
Slovenia: The new dominant parties in Slovenia will win this election, defeating the old parties. The opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), a conservative party, should poll a bit more than the governing Social Democrats (SD). Compared to 2004, however, both the SDS and SD should improve their popular and seat standing considerably. The new Zares, a member of ELDR, should also win an MEP (or two, even). The Christian democratic New Slovenia (NSi), the surprise winners in 2004 should lose at least one, if not two of their two MEPs. The Liberal Democrats, which used to dominate Slovenia, should be shut out. The Pensioners, Nationals, and Populists will not elect any MEPs, as in 2004. SDS (EPP)
Spain: The opposition Popular Party (PP) is ahead of the governing Socialist Party (PSOE), though not by a large margin. Despite being hurt by the financial crisis, the governing PSOE manages polling numbers that most European Socialists can only dream to have. This is due to the polarization of Spanish politics and the fact that the PP (and PSOE) have little space to fluctuate (roughly between 38% and 44%). The PP should narrowly defeat the PSOE, though the PP will fight to keep all its seats, especially with the loss of 4 MEPs nationally. The liberal-unionist UPyD should enter the European Parliament, and the communists (IU) could potentially make some very minor gains (popular vote wise, not seat wise). The nationalists have organized into two broad coalitions. CEU, Coalición por Europa, is the new alliance formed between the 2004 Galeusca-Pueblos de Europa and Coalición Europea. This is the right-wing alliance of nats (Basque EAJ, Catalonian CiU from Galeusca + CC, minor Valencian, Majorcan, and Andalusian nats from CE). The Galician BNG, which was part of Galeusca (thus the Gal) in 2004 is now in the left-wing alliance of nats, Europa de los Pueblos which includes the tiny Spanish Greenies. EdP includes the Catolonian ERC, BNG, the leftie Basque nats (Aralar and EA), and smaller nats from Majorca and Aragon. CEU should dominate for the nationalists, though it will probably lose votes (but not seats) compared to Galeusca’s 2004 result. The Europe of Peoples thing should hold the ERC’s only seat and stay flat (or dip slightly) in terms of votes. It will be interesting to see the effect of the new Socialist-PP coalition in the Basque Country. PP (EPP)
Sweden: While it’s pretty certain the Social Democrats will get first place (it would be practically impossible for the governing Moderate Party to get first place) and improve considerably on their disastrous 2004 result (from 24.6% to above 30%), the interesting thing to watch will be whether the combined governing right-wing parties (Moderate, Liberals, Centre, Christian Democrats) will run ahead of the Red-Green opposition (SD, Left, Greenies). Polling at this state does not indicate this to be a serious possibility. At any rate, the main losers in the circle of establishment parties will probably be the smaller the Left, Centre and potentially Christian Democrats all at the benefit of the Moderates and SDs. The Liberals should fall a bit, or at best for them, improve slightly on their 2004 result. The Greens are picking up dissatisfied SD voters, which, despite its probable gains, is led by an unpopular and poor leader. The Greens could break 10%, doubling their 2004 share. As to the euroskeptic June List, polling gives them only 1-2%, much lower than the 14.5% it won in 2004. However, polls in 2004 didn’t see the JL’s excellent result, so colour me unconvinced that they’ll poll only 1%. Another party will probably come in, the anti-copyrights law Pirate Party, which is riding on a wave of popularity with young voters after the authorities convicted the owner of the Pirate Bay, a popular illegal download site on the interwebs. Polling places them at around 5-8%. The Feminist Initiative, which has one seat following a Liberal defection, will poll crumbs and lose that seat. It will be interesting to see if the xenophobic far-right Swedish Democrats break the 4% threshold to get an MEP as some polling suggests. Or maybe the June List will keep them low. SD (PES)
United Kingdom: The recent MP’s expense scandal in the United Kingdom has changed this election significantly. The governing Labour Party is at its lowest point in national polling, trailing the Liberal Democrats by a few points and hopelessly miles behind the Conservatives. However, the Conservatives have also been hurt by the scandal, and while it has little to no effect on their Westminster polling, it does, however, affect their position in these Euro elections. The anti-European UK Independence Party (UKIP), which was set to suffer a humiliating thumping in June, has rebounced significantly with voter dissatisfaction in wake of the scandal. Current polling is fluctuating for them, with some putting them at nearly 20%, others at 10%. The latest polls put the Tories at roughly 28-30%, with Labour anywhere between 23% and 16%. In some cases, this is third place behind either the Liberal Democrats or UKIP. The Liberal Democrats seem to be anywhere between 14% and 20%. The Greens have also benefited from the Labour-killing scandal, and they’re now between 9 and 11%, which would be excellent results for them. In the North West region, the Nazis (BNP) are likely to win a seat which they narrowly missed out on in 2004. To prevent this, the Greenies have gotten the far-left Respect lunatics to drop out. In Scotland, you could see the nationalist SNP polling first place, ahead of Labour. A special post for these elections and locals held the same day will be made shortly. In Northern Ireland, changes to the 3 seats in play there are unlikely. However, these elections will be a test for the anti-Accord Unionist (TUV) led by Jim Allister, MEP. I predict Sinn Féin to hold its seat, and DUP and UUP to win one seat each. Allister should lose his seat to his old party, the DUP. Conservatives (ED)
My revised prediction in terms of member states:
Governing Parties (senior or junior partners) 14
Opposition Parties 13
In European political news today, David Cameron of the British Tories has confirmed that he will attempt to form a anti-federalist liberal group in the new Parliament. So far, the Polish Law and Justice and Czech ODS have confirmed their adhesion. In addition, a number of other parties may be interested. In fact, only the Tories, PiS and ODS would not be sufficent to form a group. A group needs atleast 25 MEPs from atleast six different countries. While the Tories only break 25 alone, they need MEPs from three other countries. So far, Lijst Dedecker from Flanders (NI), the Lega from Italy (UEN), the DFP in Denmark (UEN), the Dutch PVV (NI) and parties from Latvia and Lithuania (UEN) are names being mentioned for potential members. The foundation of this group, which will probably be named European Conservatives (a name used by a similar group in the pre-election days, 73 to 79), will probably kill off UEN and probably Independence and Democracy.