The centre-right European People's Party is set to remain the largest group in the European Parliament but with a decreased majority according to new research by Professor Simon Hix (pictured) from the London School of Economics and Political Science published today (7 April).
According to the forecast, undertaken with Professor Michael Marsh of Trinity College Dublin and the assistance of Nick Vivyan of LSE, the European People's Party will win approximately 249 seats(1) in the June European elections, but its share of seats will be down from 37 per cent to 33 per cent of MEPs.
The research is released online today at www.predict09.eu by Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications consultancy.
Professor Simon Hix said: 'Whereas in the current European Parliament the combined forces of the centre-right are larger than the combined forces of the centre-left, in the new Parliament the centre-left and the centre-right will be evenly balanced, with about 41 per cent of the seats each, compared to 38 per cent for the centre-left and 40 per cent for centre-right in the current Parliament.
'These predictions suggest that José Barroso has a good chance of being re-elected as Commission President. However, if Gordon Brown, along with his fellow social democratic leaders, decides to support an alternative candidate for the Commission President, a "progressive" coalition in the new European Parliament could still block Barroso's re-appointment.'
The forecast predicts that the Socialist PSE group will win approximately 209 seats, which represents a slight increase in percentage terms, from 27 per cent to 29 per cent of MEPs. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) will secure approximately 87 seats, according to the researchers.
A new European Conservative group, composed of the British Conservatives and their allies, are predicted to be the fourth largest group, with about 58 seats. The forecast predicts that there will be approximately the same number of anti-European and Extreme Right MEPs - about 45 in total - in the new Parliament as in the current Parliament.
Professor Hix said of the Conservative's threat to leave the EEP group: 'If the Conservatives leave they might be able to form the fourth largest group in the new European Parliament. However, the extreme policy positions of some of Cameron's potential allies in a new 'European Conservative Group' in Brussels, on issues like gender equality and immigration, could play into the hands of Labour'.
Jeremy Galbraith, CEO Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa said: 'The even split between centre-right and centre-left forces in the next European Parliament will create a more complex environment for EU policy making and those seeking to influence its outcome. Burson-Marsteller and our EU public affairs network is uniquely placed to help our clients understand and operate in this new environment.'
The analysis is based on a statistical model of the performance of national parties in European Parliament elections since 1979, developed by Professor Simon Hix and Professor Marsh, assisted by Nick Vivyan (2) . The forecast has been commissioned by Burson-Marsteller.
The predictions will be updated each week online at www.predict09.eu until the elections on 4-7 June. Visitors to the site can also vote for their choice of next President of the European Commission.
Notes to Editors
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1. The total number of MEPs will fall from 785 in the current European Parliament to 736 in the new European Parliament elected in June
2. The methodology behind this prediction of the outcome in the June 2009 elections is based on vote-shares each national party received in all the previous European Parliament elections since 1979 in all 27 member states as well as on opinion polls, modified with information about the vote-share a party received at the previous national election, whether a party is in government, whether a national party is an anti-European party, and whether the European election was held within a year of a previous national election.
For more information
Sue Windebank, LSE press office, + 44 207 849 4624 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Simon Hix, LSE, tel: +44 20 7955 7657, E-mail: email@example.com
Robert Mack, Burson-Marsteller Brussels, tel: +32 2 743 66 11, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
7 April 2009