Orban & the Elections
Recently, the conservative EPP party of the European Parliament has suspended the Hungarian conservative Fidesz party which is under the leadership of the populist president Orbán. This suspension occurred due to Hungary’s heavy rule of law crisis, but most importantly because of Orbán’s anti-EU rhetoric in which he even criticized members of his own European Parliament group. This move may have significant consequences for the European elections in May.
First of all, in case Fidesz is completely expelled from the EPP, the latter would lose a significant number of votes, which is crucial for them if they want to nominate the next Commission president. Secondly, Fidesz is very likely to find or form another European party family, which would probably be a more right-wing, Eurosceptic party. So not only would a definite expulsion of Fidesz result in a decrease of conservative MEPs, but it would also notably increase the number of Eurosceptic MEPs in the European Parliament, given that Fidesz is the largest party in Hungary and set to win a big number of seats.
Brexit & the Elections
The other big variable for the European elections is Brexit. It is no secret that the Brits have no clue what they are doing, but this uncertainty also has consequences for the European elections. The European Council granted Britain an extension for Brexit until the 31st of October, which means the British need to hold European elections in May. Aside from the paradoxical and spontaneous nature of the British European Elections, British participation has implications for the rest of the EU as well. First of all, some of Britain’s seats have been reallocated to other States. Will these states now lose the seats they had been previously promised? This is rather unlikely since no state would voluntarily give up seats. Will the Brits then get additional seats?
Maybe. But who knows, this is the first time a Member State is leaving so nobody knows what to do. Besides the seats, Brexit or no Brexit also changes the projections. Britain does not contribute any MEPs to the EPP, it does however contribute to Eurosceptic, as well as to the European socialist parties. The way it looks at the moment is that the EPP, which is set to win the biggest share of votes, is likely to lose votes because they excluded Orbán’s Fidesz; while the Eurosceptics gain many votes because of Brexit and Fidesz.
What about the Left?
At the same time, the socialists, who are likely to come in second, will gain votes through British participation, which will allow them to come very, very close to the EPP. So, the S&D might actually be able to nominate the next Commission president. Still, this has to be taken with a grain of salt, not only because the nomination process of the Commission president is a giant mess (as you can read here), but also because it is unclear how British MEPs should be counted for this process, given that they will most likely leave by the end of this year. If the extension period is maintained, they will be in office for less than a semester and not be a part of the legislative process for the vast majority of the legislative period.
So, in case you still are not sure whether you should vote or not, the cards are very open, and this time more than ever, your vote really does matter and it does make a difference on our Europe of tomorrow! So please, GO VOTE!