Tech & Rights

The #Vote4Values Elections Tracker 2019

We’ve created a tracker to show you what proportion of MEPs are anti-values, which political groups they belong to, and how they’re expected to do in the elections.

by Israel Butler

Welcome to the #Vote4Values tracker. The European Parliament elections are around the corner. Parties that have run into trouble with the EU for failing to uphold fundamental values can be found in all four of the largest political groups in the European Parliament. Our tracker shows that the anti-values parties inside the EPP, S&D, ALDE and the ECR are going to increase their strength and influence inside these groups. If these anti-values parties remain at the heart of political power, then it will be unlikely that the EU will continue to stand up for our basic values. As an overall proportion of the European parliament, anti-values MEPs probably won’t manage more than a 29 percent share. But they don't need to reach a majority to block efforts by the EU to protect our basic values if they can influence the main political groups from within. This is why it's important for centrist political groups to expel their anti-values parties and work together across party lines.

We’ve created a tracker to show you what proportion of MEPs are anti-values, which political groups they belong to, and how they’re expected to do in the elections. The tracker will also show you which pro-values coalitions are possible if political groups are willing to kick out their bad apples. And finally, you can also see the anti-values coalitions that could be formed if mainstream political groups decide to collaborate with anti-values political groups and parties.

The tracker is based on data from Politico's European Elections poll of polls, and will be updated regularly.

In case you missed it, check out our introduction to the tracker, and our primer explaining how the European Parliament works.

May update

If you're just visiting to check on how things have changed since we launched, here's what we see in a nutshell, based on the figures we worked with on 4th February and 4th March, 29th March, 23rd April and 13th May. The anti-values parties inside the EPP, S&D, ALDE and the ECR continue to be expected to increase their relative strength compared to the number of seats they have in the current European Parliament. There are still three possible pro-values coalitions that could form a majority if political groups decided to kick out their anti-values MEPs. It remains theoretically possible that an anti-values coalition could form a majority, and their margin hasn't really changed. But in a TV debate in April, Manfred Weber, the EPP's candidate for Commission president, excluded the possibility of the EPP forming an alliance with the far right.

Since we launched the tracker in February the polls have not fluctuated a lot. That is, over the past few months, the number of seats the political groups are predicted to win has stayed more or less the same. But there have been some big changes in the political landscape. First, it now looks like the UK is going to take part in the European Parliament elections. We're going to keep our focus on what the European Parliament will look like without the UK because even if it does elect new MEPs they probably won't stay long. However, we expect that readers will be curious about how the UK's participation in the elections could affect the numbers. So we are going to give you an overview of how the presence of British MEPs might have an impact on the possible pro- and anti-values coalitions through a separate non-Brexit elections tracker.

Second, the two anti-values political groups, the ENF and EFDD have disappeared. Italy's Salvini is forming a new group, the European Alliance for People and Nations (EAPN). This group is expected to soak up most ENF members, some EFDD members and maybe some ECR members. You can read more about these two changes below and in our methodology.

The third development is that the biggest political groups have started openly recognising that there are bad apples in their ranks and that they need to do something about it. We have seen discussion inside the EPP about Fidesz's membership and the party was suspended pending an internal investigation in March. But it remains part of the group. The need for an independent investigation is questionable given that there is no shortage of objective evidence from various independent European and UN expert bodies and from the European Parliament itself documenting the extent of violations committed by the Fidesz government. The S&D group has also announced that it is 'freezing' relations with its Romanian member pending a formal decision in June. Similarly, the ALDE group has recommended that its Romanian member be expelled - which will be voted on in June.

That means that discussions on all these potential expulsions of anti-values parties are going to happen only after the election results. This suggests that political groups are more concerned about their size than upholding basic values. Delaying these decisions until the results are known allows each group to weigh up how much an expulsion will cost them in terms of the number of seats the member would take with it and how much this will weaken the group towards other factions. What's more, it doesn't seem that the S&D group is talking about disciplining its Maltese or Slovakian members, nor that ALDE intends to take action on its Czech member. Brexit would present a potentially helpful opportunity to continue discussions about problematic members. Political groups could use the period between the elections and Brexit to expel their anti-values parties before the European Parliament drops down to 705 seats.

The current spread of seats in the European Parliament

Let's start with where things are now. The first chart shows you what the European Parliament looks like in 2019 in the run up to the elections. It's made up of 751 seats and includes all the UK's MEPs. The chart shows the way that MEPs are arranged in the European Parliament, sitting left to right depending on their political leanings. You can check out the table under the chart to see the exact numbers of MEPs in each group. The numbers we've given for each group show how many MEPs are in the relevant group as of the end of January 2019.

Where do anti-values MEPs sit in the current European Parliament?

In this second chart we've taken the European Parliament as it is now, and highlighted anti-values MEPs for you by colouring them in black.

{{#open-1}}Tell Me More{{/open-1}}

{{#hidden-1}}So the EFDD and the ENF are both in black on the far right. But then you will also see scatterings of black dots in among the other political groups. From left to right on the chart, these are:

  • In the centre-left S&D group, 3 MEPs from Malta's Partit Luburista (PL), 10 MEPs from Romania's Partidul Social Democrat (PSD), 4 MEPs from Slovakia's SMER party.
  • In the centrist ALDE group, 2 MEPs from the Czech Republic's ANO party and 2 MEPs from Romania's ALDE party (which is junior coalition partner to the Partidul Social Democrat).
  • In the centre-right EPP, 11 MEPs from Hungary's Fidesz party.
  • In the right-wing, Eurosceptic ECR, 14 MEPs from Poland's PiS (Law and Justice) party. {{/hidden-1}}

If you'd like to know which political group parties from your country sit in, then check out this link. You can browse national parties from across the EU or enter the name of a party, and it will tell you which political group they belong to in the European Parliament.

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{{#hidden-2}}The above chart gives you a clearer idea that none of the four largest political groups in the European Parliament is free from national parties that have been questioned or condemned by the EU for violating fundamental values. If a political group contains anti-values parties, this can be problematic. That's because political groups have a tendency to close ranks and protect their national party members from criticism. Even when this is about compliance with very basic values that the European Parliament is legally obliged to protect.

For example, the EPP helped to shield Hungary's Fidesz from criticism in the European Parliament for a number of years by watering down resolutions and blocking earlier attempts to activate Article 7 out of loyalty to its member party. The Article 7 procedure puts the country on the agenda of national ministers in the Council and could lead to sanctions. Similarly, there was a recent vote condemning corruption by the Czech Republic's prime minister, Andrej Babiš. But the majority of the ALDE (Liberal) group MEPs in the European Parliament voted against the resolution to try to protect their Czech member party ANO, which Babiš leads. In contrast, ALDE did vote in favour of a resolution condemning the Romanian government, of which their Romanian member is a junior coalition partner. The centre-left S&D group has a more mixed record. They overwhelmingly voted to protect basic values and condemned their member party in Romania and Slovakia, but when it came to Malta they largely abstained. Then in a vote on Malta and Slovakia together at the end of March 2019, the group largely joined in criticising their governments.

International pressure, especially when it comes from the EU, can be very effective in persuading a government to improve its behaviour. So if a political group protects a government that is violating fundamental values, it allows that government to go further and faster in taking apart all the basic guarantees that make it a modern European democracy. And that's not only bad news for the people living in that country. Because then other leaders and parties are encouraged to break the rules because they know that they can get away with it. And so the problem spreads to other EU countries.

The only way that the European Parliament can protect basic values effectively is if each political group is willing to confront, discipline, and if necessary, abandon its bad apples. As we noted in the update, there have been some steps in this direction in the EPP, S&D and ALDE groups.{{/hidden-2}}

What will things look like after the elections?

Below we've got a chart to show you what the next European Parliament will look like, according to current opinion polls. You might notice that there are fewer seats in the new parliament - Brexit has taken us down from 751 to 705 in total. We've decided to stick with showing you what the European Parliament will look like without the UK. This is because even though the UK will probably take part in the elections, it seems likely that it will leave the EU early on in the life of the new parliament. And when that happens, British MEPs will leave as well, and the European Parliament will be back down to 705 MEPs. Having said that, in case you're curious how things would look differently if the UK does take part in the elections, we've got some separate analysis for you below. Want to know where we got our data? Click here for more information.

Who’s down, who’s up, who’s level?

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{{#hidden-3}}Who's down? If you compare this to the situation as it stands now, you'll see that both the centre-right EPP group and the centre-left S&D group are likely to lose a lot of seats - although they will remain the two biggest groups. The Greens are also expected to lose seats. The right-wing, Eurosceptic ECR is also losing. Currently, the ECR has 19 MEPs from the UK who will be out of the equation after Brexit. But this doesn't account for all its losses. Compared to its post-Brexit size, the percentage of seats that the ECR holds is still set to shrink. The ECR has announced that it will welcome two new parties: Debout la France (from France) and Forum for Democracy (from the Netherlands). But these still won't make up the numbers.

Who's level? The far-left GUE-NGL group looks like it's going to stay the same.

Who's up? The Liberals (ALDE) are expected to grow - that's in large part thanks the fact that Macron's party (La République en Marche) is expected to join them, and maybe change the name of the group, but we don't know to what. The ENF has been replaced by a new group initiated by Italy's Salvini, the EAPN. That group is likely to swallow the existing members of the ENF along with some MEPs from the EFDD, which has disappeared and maybe some ECR members.

The unknowns. The EFDD will disappear as a political group. Some of its members are expected to join the EAPN, which has kind of replaced the ENF. Italy's 5 Star Movement intends to form a new political group, but at the moment it doesn't have enough MEPs from enough EU countries to meet the minimum requirements to create a new group. So we've folded these MEPs together with the 'new' and 'non-inscrits' MEPs who aren't yet attached to any political group.{{/hidden-3}}

A closer look at what the election means for anti-values MEPs

So that you can get more of a feel of how anti-values parties and groups are going to do, we've marked them in black in the next chart. Would you like more detail?

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{{#hidden-4}}From left to right, here's what we can see:

  • In the centre-left S&D group, 4 MEPs (up from 3) from Malta's Partit Luburista (PL), 9 MEPs (down from 10) from Romania's Partidul Social Democrat (PSD), 3 MEPs (down from 4) from Slovakia's SMER party.
  • In the centrist ALDE group, 6 MEPs (up from 2) from the Czech Republic's ANO party and 4 MEPs (up from 2) from Romania's ALDE party.
  • In the centre-right EPP, 14 MEPs (up from 11) from Hungary's Fidesz party.
  • In the right-wing, Eurosceptic ECR, 23 MEPs (up from 14) from Poland's PiS (Law and Justice) party.
  • We can also see the new EAPN group initiated by Salvini on 74 MEPs. This group essentially replaces the ENF (which holds 36 MEPs in the current European Parliament). The EFDD has disappeared altogether. Some of its MEPs have said they'll join the EAPN. We have grouped the rest together in the 'non-inscrits-new-5 Star Movement' cluster. This is not a political group, though many of these MEPs are likely to try to form a political group in the future.{{/hidden-4}}

The number of anti-values MEPs after the election, once the UK leaves the EU, is projected to be around 137 MEPs, up from 124. That's almost 19.5% of the 705 seats. Having said that, the number will be larger in practice. There are three groups of MEPs that we haven't included in this number.

These are 'non-inscrits' and new parties and a new initiative by Italy's 5 Star Movement which was formerly part of the EFDD group.

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{{#hidden-5}}‘Non-inscrits’ or ‘non-attached’ MEPs in the European Parliament whose parties haven't joined any political group. You can find a list of them in the current European Parliament here. A number of them belong to parties that can probably be considered anti-values. For example, Greece's Golden Dawn, Hungary's Jobbik and Germany's NPD.

There are some new political parties entering the elections for the first time, who haven't announced a deal to join a political group. At least some of these parties are likely to be considered anti-values, such as Spain's Vox.

Finally, Italy's 5 Star Movement is attempting to form a new political group. The 5 Star Movement previously belonged to the EFDD group, which we categorised as 'anti-values', based on academic analysis (check out our methodology here). It's hard to tell at this stage whether this new group would also be categorised by experts as anti-values.

The polls currently project that there will be 66 MEPs in the 'non-inscrits-new-5 Star Movement' cluster. But even if all of these MEPs turned out to belong to anti-values parties, the total percentage of anti-values MEPs would just reach around 29%. And this is unlikely, because there are some parties without anti-values leanings that are among this cluster.{{/hidden-5}}

What if anti-values MEPs were to break away and form a new group or supergroup?

The next two charts give you a better visual grasp of what it would look like if anti-values parties decided to work together. We’re calling them the ‘anti-values exiles’.

The following chart shows you what the European Parliament would look like if all the anti-values MEPs from the EPP, S&D, the Liberals (ALDE), and the ECR were to leave their groups and form their own new group.

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{{#hidden-6}}Just to clarify, this anti-values exiles group is our own invention - we don't know of any plans to actually create such a group in reality. We just want to show you what it would look like if it were to happen, because it's a possibility. Next to them you have the EAPN which has effectively replaced the ENF. We've coloured both of these groups in black, but you can hover over the labels under the chart to highlight which group is which.{{/hidden-6}}

And this next chart shows you what the European Parliament would look like if the anti-values exiles were to club together with the EAPN to form an anti-values supergroup. Again, this is a hypothetical group - we don't know of any plans to actually create it.

What pro-values coalitions are possible?

As discussed, if political groups were to remain as they are, then no matter what coalitions they form, they're still going to be held back from protecting basic values. What we're interested in, then, is looking at the possibility of coalitions that can protect our fundamental values. Because of this, we're going to look at what pro-values coalitions political groups could make if they were to expel their anti-values MEPs.

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{{#hidden-7}}So, just to make that clear, apart from one exception below, the coalitions we're going to show you are based on how the various political groups would look like minus their anti-values MEPs. We'll also take a look at whether an anti-values coalition could form. Spoiler alert: the numbers say it could happen.

To have a majority in a parliament of 705 (after the UK leaves the EU), you would need 353 seats. That would give you a majority of one. Just over the halfway line. We know that the EPP and S&D groups together can no longer get over this halfway line as they stand at the moment. The next chart shows that if they were to expel their anti-values MEPs, then they would be even further away from a majority.

According to the polls, if the S&D and EPP groups expelled their anti-values MEPs, they would only be able to form a majority if they worked with one or more other political groups. But not all other groups would be big enough to get them over the halfway line. These three combinations wouldn't create a majority coalition:

If all groups were to expel their anti-values MEPs, the only pro-values three-group coalition that would deliver a majority is the EPP, S&D and the Liberals (ALDE). This would bring around 368 MEPs together - so a pro-values majority of around 15 MEPs. You can see this on the next chart.

The next chart shows another possible pro-values coalition involving the EPP, S&D, Greens and far left GUE-NGL, which would deliver 377 MEPs, so a majority of around 24.

You can see from the next chart that the pro-values majority would be even bigger if Greens-EFA also joined EPP, S&D and ALDE. That would bring a total of 418 MEPs, with a coalition majority of just more than 65 MEPs.

Something that becomes pretty clear is that it will be impossible to form a pro-values coalition that has a majority of MEPs without the EPP.

{{#open-8}}Tell Me More{{/open-8}}

{{#hidden-8}}For example, a pro-values coalition of GUE-NGL, S&D, Greens-EFA and ALDE (minus its anti-values MEPs) makes it up to 303 MEPs.

A pro-values Green-Left coalition of S&D, Greens-EFA and GUE-NGL is even further away from a majority. {{/hidden-8}}

What anti-values coalitions are possible?

Even though anti-values MEPs and political groups don't form a majority by themselves, it's still possible that other political groups could choose to work with them.

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{{#hidden-9}}We've seen this happen at national level. For example, Austria's centre-right ÖVP is in coalition with the extreme-right FPÖ. In the European Parliament, the ÖVP is part of the centre-right EPP group, while the FPÖ is in the anti-values ENF group. If this were to be replicated at the level of the European Parliament, it's possible that we could see an anti-values coalition.{{/hidden-9}}

The option of an anti-values coalition is looks unlikely since Manfred Weber, the EPP's candidate for Commission President recently ruled it out during a televised debate. All the same, we're going to show you two possibilities. First, if the EPP and ECR were to cooperate with the new EAPN, we assume that anti-values MEPs in the EPP and ECR would not be expelled. If these three groups were to co-operate they wouldn't manage to reach a majority. Current polling would put them at 307 MEPs, or 46 MEPs short of a majority.

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{{#hidden-10}}A further problem for such a coalition would be that the EPP and ECR groups contain Poland's political rivals. The current Polish governing party sits in the ECR, while the Polish opposition party sits in the EPP. These parties have been bitterly opposed in the European Parliament. If the EPP and ECR were to form a coalition, then they would most likely risk Poland's opposition party leaving the EPP group (who would take about 17 seats with them, based on current polling).{{/hidden-10}}

In the next chart we show you what happens if the EPP, ECR, EAPN were joined by the anti-values MEPs from ALDE and the S&D group. The total number of MEPs would come to 333 – still 22 short of a majority.

There are some factors behind these figures that affect would

the feasibility of this coalition in practice.

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{{#hidden-11}}You could argue that it is unlikely that the 16 anti-values MEPs from the centre-left S&D would join such a coalition which is made up of parties on the centre, centre right and far right of the political spectrum. And that Poland's opposition party might walk out of the EPP for cooperating with their political rivals in the ECR, which could bring a Conservative-Anti-Values coalition down to 300 MEPs. On the other hand, it would probably be possible to bolster that number and reach a majority by attracting anti-values "non-inscrits" MEPs, MEPs from new parties and the new political group being put together by the 5 Star Movement. So if the EPP changes its mind about collaborating with anti-values parties, a Conservative-Anti-Values coalition might still be able to reach a majority.{{/hidden-11}}

Even if a Conservative-Anti-Values coalition seems unlikely, that doesn't mean our values are safe. As discussed above, the biggest problem is that political groups won't expel their anti-values parties. And because these parties are becoming stronger within their groups, they could influence their group to team up with the EAPN and any new group formed by the 5 Star Movement to block specific votes that attempt to protect values.

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{{#hidden-12}}The European Parliament takes decisions on legislation according to a majority of the votes that are actually cast. That means that it's possible to get votes passed, or to block votes, with fewer than 353 votes if some MEPs stay away from a vote or abstain. It's not hard to imagine, for example, that anti-values parties in ALDE or the S&D or the EPP could persuade their entire group to vote against measures designed to protect basic values. And if they were to be joined by the EAPN and any new group formed by the 5 Star Movement, they could reach a blocking majority. Unless other political groups formed a united and disciplined front. Which isn't easy in the European Parliament. As we noted earlier, the strength of anti-values parties in the EPP and S&D is going to grow, because the number of seats these parties have is going to remain stable or get bigger, while the size of the group as a whole falls. When it comes to ALDE, although that group is expected to grow, the number of anti-values MEPs in the group will also grow and form a bigger proportion than they do now.{{/hidden-12}}


If the European Parliament is going to keep to its obligations to protect our basic values, MEPs are going to have to break out of thinking along traditional party lines. But that will depend on you, the voter.

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{{#hidden-13}}Respect for the rule of law, democratic pluralism and fundamental rights is a basic obligation of every EU member country as well as of every EU institution. These obligations transcend politics. We've shown you that it's possible for political groups to cooperate with each other to protect these values. But it's also possible for them to ignore the problem or to form coalitions that threaten these values. We hope that as a voter you now have a clearer idea of where the party you are thinking of voting for stands. Remember, you can check that here.

If you have questions about where we got our data, how we decided which parties or groups are anti-values or any other questions, check out our #Vote4Values methodology.


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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