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The centre-right gains ground ahead of next month's European elections

brussels bureau

The centre-right gains ground ahead of next month's European elections


There is just one month until EU voters go to the polls in the European Parliament elections.

Until recently the centre-left has been in the lead, but the latest opinion polls show a rise in support for the centre-right.

The surveys put the European People’s Party (EPP) – headed by Jean-Claude Juncker – 13 seats ahead of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) led by Martin Schulz.

Both men hope to be the next European Commission president.

David O’Leary from Burson-Marsteller, whose Europe Decides project provides analysis on the upcoming elections, said most voters do not know who the two men are, and will cast their vote for other reasons.

“I’m not sure that there is really much penetration into the national media and the man on the street probably doesn’t know that much about this idea of lead candidates. So while the parties may like to equate the growth and support with their lead candidates, I think it’s probably due more to the national parties and changes in their support,” O’Leary told euronews.

One area that no-one is in any doubt about is the rise in popularity of eurosceptic parties.

France’s Marine Le Pen from the National Front and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party are set to form an extreme-right coalition. They could get enough MEPs from enough member states to form a political group in the next European Parliament.

“They may well be able to form a group of about 40 MEPs, whether they can stay together, I don’t know,” said O’Leary. He added: “We will see a similar enlarged group on the left with other people who are disaffected with the European project – and that’s a signal that the European leaders really have to take on board.”

With Europe still struggling out of economic crisis, and worries over the instability in Ukraine, many voters are disillusioned with their politicians. The fear is that a low turnout will give the far right the chance they have been looking for.

Mainstream parties have a month left to convince Europeans to vote for them.

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brussels bureau