The European Council of Foreign Affairs has warned would-be MEPs there could be as many as 97 million swing voters to convince ahead of May 23-26 ballot. According to the in-depth study, 54 percent of voters will have “no faith in politicians and political systems at both a national and European level” or “would like to see a reparation of power from Brussels”. One of the study’s authors, Susi Dennison, has warned that EU politics finds itself in a “highly precarious moment of system failure”.
The think tank collected data, alongside pollsters YouGov, from 46,000 participants across 14 member states, between January and February 2019 which make up 80 percent of the European Parliament’s seats, finding that 57 percent of participants are unlikely to cast their vote.
The study’s authors have created four potential groups of voters that MEPs will have to target if they are to be successful in the ballot – the pro-EU “system believers”, the sceptical “Gilet Jaunes”, the “pro-European left behinds” and the anti-Brussels “nationalist eurosceptics”.
Both the “Gilet Jaunes” and “Nationalist eurosceptics” equate to 54 percent of voters, according to the think tank’s publication.
Only 24 percent of the potential supporters are from the pro-European camp and “believe that both the European and national systems basically work”.
Ms Dennison, senior policy fellow and director of the European Power programme at ECFR, warned that the EU is in a “precarious moment of system failure”.
She said: “European politics is in a highly precarious moment of system failure. Almost three-quarters of EU citizens believe that either their national system is broken, the EU system is broken – or both.
“They now fear the future more than the past, with two-thirds of Europeans assuming their children will be worse off than them. To rebuild their licence to operate, politicians across the EU need to heed these alarm bells and offer a signal of change that they can credibly deliver.”
In Spain, Sweden Italy and France the study suggests that more than 50 percent of voters believe their national governments and the EU have failed them.
Eurosceptic, anti-Brussels parties enjoy a boom most prominently in Austria (32 percent of voters), which is seen to be a largely pro-EU country.
A fear of either Islamic radicals and migration remain the top talking points amongst potential voters in Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia and the Netherlands.
Mark Leonard, director of the ECFR, said: There is everything still to play for in the European elections. Our research finds that a huge proportion of the European electorate are still undecided on how they’ll vote.
“It’s clear from our data that political tribalism has not yet taken hold across Europe. Rather than a gravitating to the extremes, the European electorate are confused – stuck in a whirlpool of kaleidoscopic chaos – moving in every direction, between the right and the left, and from the populists to the mainstream.
“In this fluid environment there is a real opportunity for mainstream parties to reconnect with voters. However, they cannot allow themselves to be labelled as defenders of the status quo.
“They must recast themselves as bold reformers with policies that will change the lives of citizens for the better. Only then will they win back the trust of Europe’s moderate majority.”
According to private internal European Parliament polling, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party are expected to return 28 out of Britain’s 73 MEPs if the country takes part in the vote.
Theresa May’s Conservative will slump to 17 seats, while Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party are only expected to win 11 MEPs, according to the study.