While the European Parliament elections might still seem far away, recent developments reveal that the election season has already begun. Since the Qatargate scandal rocked the Parliament, political parties are publicly accusing one another in an effort to polish their image – a clear indication that the gates of the electoral arena have been opened. With the start of the election season, the time is right to look at the anticipated changes and plan your next advocacy steps.
What is going to change?
According to the latest polls of December 2022, five out of seven political groups are expected to lose seats in the next legislative period. Only the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) are foreseen to substantially win seats, although not as many as their national equivalents in some Member States. One trend that becomes clear when studying the seat projections is the shift of votes from the centre parties to other parties. The anticipated losses for the EPP and S&D mean they will continue to need a third or even a fourth party to build parliamentary majorities. With the Renew group also expected to lose seats, compromise positions might be harder to reach and ECR might be part of majorities more often. For the Greens, too, the future does not look very bright at the moment: They are expected to lose a significant number of seats from their all-time high of 2019.
What can you do in 2023?
In the first half of the year, many civil society organisations are likely to start or join campaigns asking for specific deliverables in the new mandate. These so-called pledges are a key mechanism and are used to obtain assurances from MEPs that they will promote the organisation’s objectives or agenda. In this stage, the focus is not too much on substance but rather on pushing for the general adoption of relevant legislative acts.
Another advocacy opportunity lies in influencing national programmes in autumn of 2023. If relevant connections exist, it is a good idea to contact national parties in Member States to ensure that their national programmes are aligned with a certain agenda.
At the same time, the last negotiations on legislative files of the current mandate should not be left out of sight. It is crucial to seize this last opportunity to influence the outcomes of the current EU policy cycle and start working on it with MEPs until the spring of 2024. Collaborating with MEPs who are not running for re-election might prove particularly useful as they have more time available for the legislative work.
The beginning of 2023 marks the right moment to scale up and plan pre-election advocacy. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work for a better Europe.