Salvini’s League Gains in New EU Parliament Vote Projection

(Bloomberg) -- The European Parliament’s biggest political alliance weakened further in the assembly’s latest projection of election results in May, while the populist party of Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini posted a larger gain.

The outlook released on Friday in Brussels broadly reinforces initial forecasts on Feb. 18 of the 705 seats to be held by national parties and their European Union umbrella groups in the EU Parliament after a May 23-26 ballot. The U.K., which is scheduled to leave the bloc at the end of March, is excluded.

Salvini’s League Gains in New EU Parliament Vote Projection

The EU’s Christian Democrats will remain the No. 1 faction in the European assembly with 181 seats, down from an initial projection of 184 and from a current total of 217, according to the new forecasts.

The Socialists are still seen as the No. 2 group with 135 seats, unchanged from the last projection and down from 186 in the current EU Parliament.

Salvini’s League is projected to have 28 members, up from 27 in the previous forecast and from six currently. Still, the number of seats that will be held by the group to which the League belongs -- the Europe of Nations and Freedom -- remains unchanged from the last forecast at 59, up from 37 now.

A rival populist group in the EU assembly is called Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy and includes the League’s ruling coalition partner at home, the Five Star Movement of Italy’s other deputy premier, Luigi Di Maio. The number of Five Star-affiliated EU lawmakers -- currently 14 -- is forecast to grow to 21, down from 22 in the previous projection, giving the faction a total of 39 seats compared with 41 at present.

Europe’s Liberals continue to be seen as the No. 3 faction with 75 seats and as potential kingmakers in the formation of any pro-EU majority coalition. Their ranks could swell with the addition of French President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic on the Move party, which is forecast to have 22 members, up from 18 in the previous projection.

The biggest national party in the next EU Parliament is still forecast to be the German Christian Democrats allied to Chancellor Angela Merkel. They’re now projected to have 34 members, up from 29 in the previous projection and unchanged from their current total.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.