#Vote4Values Tracker: Affect the EU Elections and Protect Fundamental Values

Is the party you're thinking of voting for in bed with parties from other countries that are violating basic values? If you're voting centre left, centre right or liberal, then the answer is yes.

If mainstream political groups kicked out their bad apples, could they make a majority coalition committed to protecting our fundamental values? What would happen if all the parties currently in trouble with the EU were to join forces with political groups that are openly against fundamental values? Our #Vote4Values elections tracker will bring you the answers based on the latest polling data.

European countries embraced the basic values of the rule of law, pluralist democracy and fundamental rights after the Second World War. Any country that wants to join the EU has to first prove that it has created rules, like civil liberties, and institutions, like independent courts, that guarantee these values. All EU institutions are legally bound to respect these values, and the European Parliament has underlined its own commitment to uphold them in its internal rules.

But political parties that openly violate basic shared European values have been doing better in recent national elections. In some countries they are now in power, either alone (like in Hungary and Poland) or in coalition (like in Italy, Austria and Romania). Even when these parties have been unable to take power, they have caused mainstream political parties in the political centre to adopt more authoritarian rhetoric and policies, such as in the Netherlands and Sweden.

Between the 23rd and 26th of May this year, citizens around the EU will be voting in the European Parliament elections. Some experts are predicting a big political shake-up, and not just because of Brexit. The two biggest political groups in the European Parliament (on the centre right and centre left) are likely to see their share of seats fall. And the number of seats held by MEPs that reject basic values is likely to increase.

Don’t know what a ‘political group’ is, or how the European Parliament works? Check out our primer.

Want to find out what political group a party in your country belongs to? Check out this link.

The two openly anti-values political groups in the European Parliament are expected to increase their share of the seats. These are the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (or EFDD, with the likes of Alternative fur Deutschland and Italy's Five Star Movement) and the Europe of Nations and Freedom group (or ENF, which includes the parties of Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini). These groups aren't expected to get anything close to a majority. In fact, around 70% of MEPs expected to be elected to the European Parliament are from parties that respect basic values.

But this doesn't mean you can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite this encouraging pro-values majority, there at least two remaining problems.

First, there are anti-values MEPs in each of the main political groups in the European Parliament. The centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the centrist Liberals (ALDE) each have MEPs from national parties that have run into trouble with the EU for flouting its basic values. Political groups tend to defend their member parties from attack, and nobody is clean. We've seen this most clearly with the EPP, which has shielded its Hungarian member Fidesz for many years. But other political groups often do the same. MEPs find it difficult to put partisan politics aside and come together to put pressure on governments that are breaking the rules if they are from their own political group.

Want to find out what political group a party in your country belongs to? Check out this link.

Second, before national elections, mainstream political parties will often rule out working with anti-values parties. But the centre-right EPP has not done this. It's possible, then, that anti-values MEPs could club together and build a majority coalition with the centre-right EPP, as they have in some countries like Austria. If that happened in the European Parliament, we could see any attempts to take action against governments violating basic values blocked.

We've partnered with John Morijn, a researcher affiliated to the University of Groningen and New York University, to bring you our #Vote4Values tracker for the 2019 European Parliament elections. The predictions about how many seats are going to be won by the different political groups is based on publicly available data from the poll of polls - an aggregation of national polls that will be updated regularly.

What can you use the elections tracker for?

We've created a series of infographics showing you how pro- and anti-values parties are expected to perform in the European Parliament elections. This should let you see:

  • What proportion of MEPs are anti-values, which political groups they belong to, and how they’re expected to do in the elections.
  • Possible coalitions that could be formed to protect basic values if political groups are willing to kick out their bad apples.
  • Possible anti-values coalitions that could be formed if mainstream political groups decide to collaborate with anti-values political groups and parties.

What do we mean by ‘anti-values’?

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When we refer to anti-values parties or political groups, we're talking about parties that have an agenda to or a practice of undermining the basic values of the rule of law, pluralistic democracy and/or fundamental rights. These standards are listed as the common values that all European countries share and the values on which the EU is founded, in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. To learn more about this, read here.

Who have we classed as anti-values?

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  • Two political groups: the Europe of Nations group and Freedoms and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.
  • In the centre-left S&D group, we have Malta's Partit Luburista (PL), Romania's Partidul Social Democrat and Slovakia's SMER party.
  • In the centrist Liberal (ALDE) group, we have the Czech Republic's ANO party and the Romanian ALDE party (which is the junior coalition partner of the centre-left Partidul Social Democrat).
  • In the centre-right EPP, we have Hungary's Fidesz party.
  • In the right-wing, Eurosceptic ECR, we have Poland's PiS (Law and Justice) party.

If you want to know how we made the decision to class these parties and political groups as anti-values, click here.

With around 70 percent of MEPs expected to be pro-values, you’d have thought it would be easy to guarantee that the European Parliament will champion our rights and freedoms. But because all the main political groups contain bad apples, anti-values MEPs could still end up at the heart of political power. The only way to stop this is if voters start asking their political representatives why they want to collaborate with anti-values parties instead of making new alliances with MEPs who will champion fundamental values.

If you still have questions about how the European Parliament works or what political groups are, head over to our primer and see our latest info video.

If you're all clued up, you’re ready to dive in to the tracker. #Vote4Values.

Find out more:

What exactly does the European Parliament do, and why is it so important? Read this.

What do we mean by 'anti-values', and where do we get our data from? Here's our methodology.

This could be the most important EP elections ever. Why? Watch this.

Take our quiz to see why you should vote in the EP elections.

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