How Britain would vote in the European Parliament election in May

ER Editor: First off, Politico from which we take this story is mainstream media and they are not likely to support any kind of populism nor Brexit. Second, Brexit should happen by March 29th making the European Parliament elections in May redundant. However, as Brexit is not likely to happen when it should, British voters should still have the legal option to vote in the EU elections.
The big issue in the upcoming elections is the degree to which the populist parties will increase their share of the vote, and this the Establishment are very worried about indeed. See Collapse of EU superstate? Eurosceptics could paralyze Brussels after May elections – study.

How Britain would vote in the European election

Results would be less destabilizing than many fear.


LONDON — As the Brexit saga drags on, an uncomfortable scenario has reared its head: If Brexit is significantly delayed, the U.K. will have to participate in the European Parliament election in May.

It’s a less-than-ideal prospect for both sides: The U.K. could face a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice if it doesn’t agree to host an election, while in Brussels, the prospect of Britain electing MEPs for a five-year term while it’s on its way out of the bloc raises all kinds of tricky legal questions.

Would voters in the U.K. even turn up for the European Parliament elections even if they had to be held? | Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Whether Britain will still be a member of the EU in May is anyone’s guess. But if it is — and these days, it’s hard to rule anything out — the big question is how voters would react.

Will they stick it to the EU and elect dozens of Brexit hard-liners, swelling the ranks of the expected populist surge? Would the Europhile Liberal Democrats get an unexpected boost? How will it affect the power sharing in the European Parliament?

Number Cruncher Politics polled a representative sample of 1,030 Britons in January to find out.

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Our poll suggests that the main parties — Theresa May’s Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour — would strengthen their grip, with a tight contest between them.

Labour polled at 37 percent of likely voters and the Conservatives polled at 36 percent, both up 12 points from the 2014 result (excluding Northern Ireland, where we didn’t ask this question due to the different voting system).

Meanwhile, our poll indicates UKIP would see a big drop in support and wouldn’t replicate the political earthquake of 2014, where the Euroskeptic party’s victory marked the first U.K.-wide election since 1910 that was not won by one of the two main parties.

UKIP is likely to see its support plummet from 27 percent in 2014 to 10 percent this year. This result would make it the third-largest party in the British delegation to the European Parliament.

There’s no sign that a European election would boost the beleaguered Lib Dems either. Vince Cable’s party polled at 8 percent, up just 1 point from its disastrous 2014 showing, which saw it come within a whisker of losing all of its seats in the European Parliament.

The Greens, meanwhile, are on 5 percent, down 3 points from 2014. Other, smaller parties have 5 percent between them, also down 3 points.

Because the U.K. uses a regional list system for the European Parliament, seat distribution is less proportional than in some countries. But the poll would be consistent with Labour and the Conservatives each gaining between eight and 10 seats compared to 2014 (disregarding subsequent defections), mostly at UKIP’s expense, but with all three Green seats also under threat.

The U.K.’s participation would of course affect the Parliament’s composition. Labour’s seats would add helpfully to the Socialists & Democrats column and the Tories to the European Conservatives and Reformists group. The European People’s Party — the Parliament’s largest political force — no longer has major party representation in the U.K.

We must be careful to see this poll as a measurement of the present rather than a prediction of the future. The European Parliament election is still months away, and a lot can happen in that time. Indeed, a lot already has: 11 MPs broke away from their parties earlier this month to form a new political force, The Independent Group. Polls indicate that as a party it could attract anywhere from 6 percent to 18 percent of likely voters in Westminster elections.

Most obviously, any vote for the European Parliament would take place against a backdrop of Brexit being delayed. And while we asked people to imagine precisely this scenario when answering the question, the political environment of a delay in Brexit has the potential to upset the electoral landscape.

Turnout is also likely to be low. As in most countries where voting is not mandatory, enthusiasm for the European election in the U.K. is underwhelming. Only 43 percent of our poll’s respondents said they would be certain to vote, with voters who backed Remain in 2016 more likely than Leavers to say they would head to the ballot box.

People usually overestimate their likelihood of voting, so the actual turnout is likely to be much lower.

Another unknown is which parties will choose to stand. We asked about the U.K.’s main political forces, but a number of minor parties are likely to stand as well. This would likely cause the share for “others” to increase.

The numbers do tell us one thing. If the U.K. does participate in May’s European election, the result probably wouldn’t be as destabilizing as many fear. They are unlikely to change the power distribution in the hemicycle, or dramatically tip the scales in one direction or another.

In fact, the result of a European Parliament election is likely to be rather uneventful. What effect a Brexit delay will have on U.K. and European politics, of course, is a different story.

Matt Singh is a pollster and the founder of Number Cruncher Analytics.


Original article

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