A Forecast for the 2024 European Parliament Elections

... it's the Final Forecast (well, by us, anyway!)

by Simon Hix and Kevin Cunningham

UPDATED: Monday, 3 June 2024

There are two main ways to predict the outcome of European Parliament elections.

First, a “nowcast” takes the current levels of support for national parties in national opinion polls and calculated how many seats each national party would win if a European Parliament election were held today.  This approach is adopted by several platforms, such as EuropeElects and Politico.

Second, a “forecast” builds a statistical model to predict the level of national party support at the time of the European Parliament election in June 2024, using a variety of variables, such as national opinion poll standings today, how many votes a party won at the last national election, whether a party is in government or opposition, and the political family of a party.

We use this second approach.  We build a model based on the results of the 2014 and 2019 elections, and use the outputs of that model to predict national party vote shares in the 2024 elections, and then turn these vote shares into predicted national party seats, and aggregate those up to the political groups.  The Annex, below, explains the model in more detail.

Here are the results of our forecast model for the elections in June 2024, compared to the current composition of the European Parliament.  The main changes are:

  • Together, the three centrist political groups (EPP, S&D, and RE) will be slightly smaller, although EPP are likely to gain some seats;
  • The two groups to the right of EPP (ECR and ID) will be considerably larger, and together could have more seats than S&D;
  • The average (median) MEP will move rightwards, and will be a member of EPP rather than RE; and
  • Overall, there will be more power in the adoption of EU laws for the groups on the right (EPP, ECR, and ID) than in the current Parliament

Projected make-up of the European Parliament

In terms of changes in national representation inside the political groups, these are our forecast changes from the current compositions of the groups.

Projected changes in national delegations

In our first forecast for the EP 2024 elections based on our model, in January 2024 – together with Susi Dennison and Imogen Learmouth and the teams at ECFR and DataPraxis – we predicted a “sharp right turn”: an increase in seats for the two political groups to the right of the EPP, and a shift in the median MEP from Renew Europe to EPP.  In our latest forecast, and our final one before the election, we are still forecasting that the next EP will be considerably more right-leaning than the current one, and that the two groups to the right of the EPP will be considerably larger than they currently are.

Nevertheless, there have been some movements since our first forecast

First, centre left and centre right parties in several member states (particularly S&D in France) are doing better in the polls than they were in January 2024. And, as the opinion poll standings of the parties make up the main part of our model, this improved performance is reflected in a few more seats for S&D and EPP than we thought in January – although we still expect S&D to be somewhat smaller in the next Parliament than they are in the current one.

Second, we expect ECR and Renew Europe to be neck-and-neck in the race to be the third largest group, with ID now some way behind, after the expulsion of AfD(DE) from that group.

That said, there is still some uncertainty about what the new Parliament will look like after the dust has settles.  Several questions remain unanswered:

Will a new group emerge to the right of the EPP?  This group could bring together all the “governable” parties in ECR and ID – such as FdI(IT), PiS(PL), RN(FR), Fidesz(HU), PVV(NL), FPÖ(AT), Vox(ES), NVA(BE), SD(SE), DF(DK), PS(FI) etc.  In other words, this would be all the major radical right parties except for AfD(DE), Lega(IT), Konfederacja(PL), Volya(BG), VB(BE), Chega(PT), Reconquête!(FR), and a few others.  If this happens, this new group could potentially be the second largest in the new Parliament, ahead of S&D!

However, the Italian PM, Giorgia Meloni, will be the key player in determining whether a new “super group” on the right could emerge.  She may feel that if she joins such a group, this could jeopardise her influence in the selection of the next Commission President and a portfolio for an Italian Commissioner.  Put another way: Giorgia Meloni may have to choose between Ursula von der Leyen and Marine Le Pen!

What will happen to the other parties who are currently non-attached? Will M5S(IT) join The Left or G/EFA now that they are a more explicitly radical left party? Could there be enough members and parties on the “anti-immigrant left” to form a new group, for example with SD-SMER(SK), BSW(DE), and some others?

Will there be a new formation in the centre? Several changes are afoot there too, with VVD(NL) potentially being expelled for joining a government with Wilders’ PVV, and with the expected loss of seats for Macron’s Ensemble!, there may be pressure to replace Macron’s “Renew Europe” label with the traditional ALDE label.

Not long to wait now.  Have fun!

Who we are:

Simon Hix is Stein Rokkan chair in comparative politics at the European University Institute in Florence. He was previously vice-president of the London School of Economics and the inaugural Harold Laski chair in political science at LSE. He has written over 150 books, academic articles, policy papers, and research-related blogs on European and comparative politics. Simon has won prizes for his research from the American Political Science Association and the UK-US Fulbright Commission. Simon is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Simon has been forecasting European Parliament elections since 1999.

Kevin Cunningham is a lecturer in politics, political strategist, and pollster. He has worked for a number of political parties, most notably leading the targeting and analytics for UK Labour. Kevin also specialises in the politicisation of immigration and worked for three years as a researcher on an EU-funded project to understand the politicisation of immigration. He runs Ireland Thinks, working principally for state bodies, academics, and political parties.

Annex: How the statistical model works

We build a statistical model of the vote shares each national party is likely to win in a European Parliament election.  We start with the results of the 2014 and 2019 European Parliament elections and the opinion poll standing of parties ahead of those elections.

We use five sources of information about each national party predict their results in the 2024 elections:

  1. The current standing of the party in opinion polls;
  2. The vote share the party won in the most recent national parliament election;
  3. Whether the party is in government or opposition (we make a distinction between minor coalition partners and the party of the prime minister);
  4. Which political family the party belongs to; and
  5. The length of time since the last general election.

At this point of the electoral cycle, our model estimates support for a given party in the election as 83 per cent of its opinion poll standing ahead of the election, plus 9 per cent of its vote share in the most recent national parliament election, plus a slight boost for parties in government (if they hold the prime ministers’ office). This feature also depends on the length of time the party is in government. There is also a slight boost for Greens and Anti-Europeans, and a few points less for Social Democrats and Liberals.

From the predicted vote shares from the model, we then calculated the number of MEPs each national party should win, according to the particular electoral system and seat allocation method used in each member state. 

We then aggregated these up to the political groups in the European Parliament. We assumed that each national party currently in the parliament will sit in the same group as it currently does. National parties that do not currently have any MEPs but which we forecast to win one or more seats are either assigned to the parliamentary group of the transnational European party to which they already belong or to the group they have declared they will join, or as non-attached members if they have not yet declared who they will join.