The road to Strasbourg (2/2)

, by Alistair Spearing

The road to Strasbourg (2/2)

Which party will receive the most votes? Who will be the next President of the Commission? Will the eurosceptics take the Parliament by storm? The second half of this two-part article looks at the state of affairs in different EU Member States with just a few months left until the 2014 European election.

Italy (73 seats)

To say that 2013 was a rollercoaster year in Italian politics would be quite an understatement. However, the coalition parties are closing in on a deal that could lead to less chaotic elections in the future. Matteo Renzi’s recent election as its leader has galvanised the Democratic Party, which leads the European polls with 32% of the votes, with Berlusconi’s revived Forza Italia in second place with 22%. Despite internal strife, the Five Star Movement still looks set to poll high, with 21%, while the New Centre-Right ( 5%) and the Northern League ( 4%) may capture a seat or two.

Latvia (8 seats)

With parliamentary elections looming in October, the European election in Latvia will be a dress rehearsal for the national one. No opinion polls have been published recently, but much will hinge on whether Dombrovskis’ Unity Party can withstand the battering it took following the Riga supermarket roof collapse, and on whether Latvians think their first months in the Eurozone have been good for them.

Lithuania (11 seats)

Prime Minister Butkevičius has pretty much staked his job on a successful European policy, claiming he will resign if Lithuania cannot join the Eurozone in 2015. Polls say voters will endorse his Social Democrats ( 25%), followed by the eurosceptic Order and Justice ( 11%) and the centre-right Homeland Union ( 9%), still in the doldrums following its poor showing in the 2012 national election.

Luxembourg (6 seats)

The European election will be the first acid test for the new Bettel government. No European polls have been published recently. However, if history and the October elections are anything to go by, the Christian Social People’s Party will handily win the European election, as it always has. The Socialist Workers’ Party should take second, although the Democratic Party will probably give it a run for its money.

Malta (6 seats)

As in other small countries, European election polls are few and far between. The archipelago is basically a two-party state, with only the centre-left Labour Party and the centre-right Nationalist Party holding any seats in the national parliament. Expect the two of them to carve up Malta’s European Parliament seats between them fairly evenly.

Netherlands (26 seats)

The big story is that Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom is leading the polls with 17% of votes. The resilient People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy ( 14%) continues to poll high despite several years in government, while the Labour Party ( 10%) flounders in fifth place as its core constituencies punish it for enabling harsh budget cuts and its blatantly out-of-character anti-immigration rhetoric.

Poland (51 seats)

Merkel has made no secret of the fact that Donald Tusk is on her shortlist for the Commission presidency but, at least in Poland, it looks like his Civic Platform ( 27%) will be beaten into second place by the anti-Federalist Law and Justice Party ( 30%). The largest centre-left party, the Democratic Left Alliance, is light-years behind them, at 12%. Other parties seem unlikely to gain representation.

Portugal (21 seats)

If you need proof of how short political memory is, look no further than Portugal. Less than three years after being smashed in the 2011 legislative election (its worst showing in over two decades), the Socialist Party ( 38%) is set to win the European elections by a country mile. The other side of the coin is the Social Democratic Party ( 27%), which has lost as much as the Socialists have gained.

Romania (32 seats)

Voters appear to think Prime Minister Ponta’s Social Democratic Party is managing the country well, as polls show the PSD ( 39%) greatly improving on its 2009 score. President Băsescu’s Democratic Liberal Party ( 19%), on the other hand, faces heavy losses and may even surrender second place to the National Liberal Party ( 18%). The ethnic Hungarian UDMR ( 6%) will try to salvage a seat or two.

Slovakia (13 seats)

Pro-Europeans and other democrats in Slovakia were left reeling by the election of neo-Nazi Marian Kotleba as the governor of Banská Bystrica, but they now have a chance to take back the initiative in the European elections. The Social Democrats ( 40%) should win handily, with the Christian Democrats ( 10%) a distant second. The Ordinary People Party ( 8%) and Most–Híd ( 7%) are vying for third.

Slovenia (8 seats)

Slovenia is going into the 2014 European elections after narrowly dodging a bailout and with new Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek at the helm. However, her Positive Slovenia will probably take a beating in May, as the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party grabs 36% of votes and the Social Democrats take 21%. Bratušek’s party ( 14%) sits in third, just ahead of the Pensioners’ Party ( 13%).

Spain (54 seats)

The Socialists have so far been unable to make hay of the ruling Popular Party’s abortive attempts to revive the economy. However, the backlash against the new abortion law has turned the tables in national polls and could end up doing the same in European ones. While united on the home front, Catalan nationalist parties have been unable to agree on a common platform for the European elections and will be running in two separate coalitions. Recent polls show the Popular Party ( 32%) just ahead of the Socialists ( 30%), with the United Left ( 13%) receiving a huge boost compared to 2009, and Union, Progress and Democracy ( 9%).

Sweden (20 seats)

Although to outside observers Sweden may seem to be sailing smoothly, many Swedish voters disagree. This is why the four parties in the ruling coalition, even when put together, are polling lower than the Social Democrats’ 33% (!). Far behind, but still ahead of all the other parties, the staunchly anti-immigration Sweden Democrats ( 10%) will contribute to the populist upswell in Europe.

United Kingdom (73 seats)

While some polls put Labour and others put UKIP ahead, there is a real risk that the Conservatives will come in third in a national election for the first time in several generations, possibly even triggering a leadership challenge as restless backbenchers seek to depose a Prime Minister who is not conservative enough for their taste. Labour ( 32%) seems to be slowly but steadily forging ahead of UKIP ( 26%) as Farage’s party takes damage from “Stormgate” and other scandals. Not all hope is lost for the Conservatives ( 23%), who can still overtake UKIP and take a more or less honorable second.

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