Labour maintains healthy lead in EU election poll

The Labour Party continues to enjoy a healthy lead at the polls according to the European Parliament election forecast even if its share of the vote has dropped over the past two weeks.

Since the launch of the election prediction model by international communications consultancy firm Burson-Marsteller on April 7, the Labour Party (PL) has seen its margin of the vote increase from 50.6 per cent to 51 per cent. However, two weeks ago, the PL share stood at 53 per cent.

Since April, the Nationalist Party's share dropped from 45 per cent to 38 per cent.

The latest prediction results published yesterday give Alternattiva Demokratika 6.3 per cent and Azzjoni Nazzjonali 4.7 per cent.

The survey predicts the PL will get three seats against the PN's two. The next survey will be published on June 4.

The survey authors corrected an initial flaw in the statistical model, which did not cater for the potential votes that may be garnered by AN, which is poised to cash in on the prevailing anti-immigrant sentiment.

The predictions are based on a scientific model developed by researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Dublin's Trinity College.

According to Simon Hix, from the London School of Economics, the main change in the predictions over the last two weeks - the rise in support for AD and AN - resulted from some changes made to the statistical model, which boosted the support for small parties that are not in government.

The model factors in the share of votes won by each national party in all the previous EP elections since 1979 and opinion polls modified by information about vote shares in the previous national election. It also takes into consideration whether a party is in government, whether a national party is anti-European and whether the European election is held within a year of a previous national election.

In the first European Parliament election for Malta held five years ago, the PL obtained a relative majority of 48.4 per cent with the PN trailing behind at 39.8 per cent. AD had its best ever showing in a nation-wide election when it obtained almost 10 per cent of the vote.

The model provides poll predictions for all the 27 EU member states and shows that the conservative bloc in the EU Parliament, the European Peoples Party, is set to retain its standing as the largest grouping albeit with a reduced number of seats.

The Socialist group will be the second largest group.

The authors of the report said that, according to their predicted make-up of the next European Parliament, José Barroso stood a good chance of being re-elected as Commission President if the Liberals (ALDE) would support an EPP-Conservative coalition to re-elect the former Portuguese Prime Minister. However, this was not a foregone conclusion.

"An alternative progressive coalition of Liberals, Socialists, Greens and Radical Left MEPs could still block the re-election of Mr Barroso," the report authors said.

The next European Parliament will be composed of 736 MEPs as opposed to the 785 in the outgoing Parliament.

Malta will elect five seats on June 6 and will have a sixth seat if and when the Lisbon Treaty is approved by the Irish in a referendum to be held later this year.

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