Brexit Delay Could Benefit Left in European Elections

If the British Labour Party does well in European elections, it could help the left close the gap with the center-right.

European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans answers questions from members of the European Parliament in Brussels, April 26, 2017
European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans answers questions from members of the European Parliament in Brussels, April 26, 2017 (European Parliament)

The delay of Brexit could benefit the left in European elections in May.

A poll conducted by Hanbury Strategy for Open Europe found that the British Labour Party could win nearly 38 percent support and close to thirty parliamentarians in Strasbourg.

That would make theirs the largest delegation in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), surpassing the German Social Democrats, and close the gap with the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which stands to gain nothing from Brexit. Theresa May’s Conservatives group with the mildly Euroskeptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) instead.

Britain will need to hold European elections if it is still in the EU next month.

Progressive majority

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch commissioner who leads the S&D, is hopeful that a coalition could be formed for the first time without the EPP.

He said on Thursday that his “priority” would be to find a majority based on “progressive and sustainable values” with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), French president Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche!, the Greens and elements of the far left.

Poll of polls

The latest poll of polls shows the gap between the center-right and center-left has narrowed to seventeen. (There are 751 seats in the European Parliament.)

  • EPP: 175
  • S&D: 158
  • ALDE: 96
  • ECR: 74
  • Greens: 49
  • Far left: 47

This list excludes other Euroskeptic and far-right parties, who are projected to win up to one-fifth of the seats but whose alliances are likely to change.

The figure for ALDE includes the ~22 seats En Marche! is projected to win, although Macron has not officially joined the liberal bloc.

Possible coalitions

Only a broad coalition of the conservatives, socialists and liberals would command the 376 seats needed for a majority.

  • EPP + S&D = 333
  • EPP + S&D + ALDE = 429
  • EPP + ALDE + ECR = 345
  • S&D + ALDE + Greens = 303
  • S&D + ALDE + Greens + far left = 350