EU Parliament Abruptly Shelves Forecasts of Upcoming Ballot

(Bloomberg) -- The European Parliament scaled back its plan to publish regular forecasts of upcoming election results after most of the assembly’s political groups expressed objections.

The European Union legislature intends to release only two -- rather than seven -- more projections of the 705 seats to be held by national parties after the May 23-26 ballot in all EU countries except the U.K., which is due to leave the bloc beforehand. As of April 23, a purdah will apply.

The Parliament has published two sets of surveys so far -- on Feb. 18 and March 1 -- and both indicated the Christian Democratic and Socialist groups will see their combined share of seats fall below 50 percent while retaining the top two spots. A euroskeptic faction that includes allies of Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen was projected to grow to 8 percent from 5 percent.

The EU assembly had planned further forecasts on March 14 -- a date it then dropped -- March 28, April 11, April 29, May 8, May 16 and May 21. The projections are based on aggregations of opinion polls in each member state.

The Parliament’s Bureau -- made up of President Antonio Tajani and 14 vice presidents -- decided on Monday in Strasbourg, France, to allow only two additional forecasts and to release none as of April 23.

“The Bureau had a discussion about the subject on Monday evening in Strasbourg and decided there will be two more seat projections before a purdah from April 23,” Marjory van den Broeke, a spokeswoman for the EU Parliament, said by phone. The next projection is now due on March 29, while no date has yet been set for the fourth and final set of forecasts, she said.

The original plan to publish nine surveys in total was meant to help generate interest in the EU Parliament elections, in which voter turnout has fallen for the past four decades. Political groups in the assembly argued that their future seat shares aren’t necessarily reflected by the projections because the formation of factions after the ballot can involve changing alliances and that national parliaments don’t publish similar polls.

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