The European Elections could be a painful watch for Remainers


The European Elections could be a painful watch for Remainers

Anti-Brexit parties are polling at around half the level of the pro-Brexit, anti-People’s Vote parties. The key problem, as it has always been for the Remain cause, is that the Labour vote is mostly made up of Remainers.

In theory, the forthcoming European Elections on 23 May should be an opportunity for Remainers to translate the clear majority for staying in the EU that we see in the polls into actual votes. Remain has been ahead of Leave since the summer of 2017, and recent majorities have been above 5 per cent.

Indeed some in the smaller anti-Brexit parties have been suggesting exactly this: the EU elections should be about Remaining rather than Leaving. Unfortunately things are not that simple, as the following YouGov poll illustrates.

The smaller columns for the parties represent the data with “Would not vote” and “Don’t know” included.

The first point here is that the anti-Brexit parties are polling at around half the level of the pro-Brexit, anti-People’s Vote parties. The key problem, as it has always been for the Remain cause, is that the Labour vote is mostly made up of Remainers. In this poll, 77 per cent of Labour voters voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, and some of the other 23 per cent may have changed their minds since then. Labour is an overwhelmingly Remain party in terms of who votes for it – but its leadership is in favour of its own form of Brexit and appears ambivalent towards a People’s Vote.

Some Remainers would love voters to desert Labour and vote for one of the three unambiguously anti-Brexit parties. But this is very unlikely to happen. Many voters, even though they might support Remain, want a Labour government above all else, and they will vote for Labour despite the poll asking about elections to the European Parliament. This is of course exactly what happened in the 2017 general election. Voting left is hardly an irrational choice for these Remainers, because if we do not leave the EU, the European Parliament does play a minor role in EU affairs, and it is important to have left wing voices there.

The second point is that the elections for the European Parliament is actually about voting for MEPs, so seats matter, as well as the popular vote. The D’Hondt voting system used in British elections for the European parliament combined with voting for MEPs on a regional basis does penalise smaller parties. The Liberal Democrats only received 1 seat out of 73 in 2014, even though they got nearly 7 per cent of the overall vote. As a result, if the Remain vote splits badly, it is conceivable that the total seat count for the Remain parties combined may only be a few seats, which will not look good compared to the double figures that Farage will get.

A very good question is why the anti-Brexit parties have not cooperated. It would be difficult to choose just one of …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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