European election results: What do we think will happen?

On Thursday night when every part of my body hurt like hell and my eyes were melting with exhaustion, I couldn’t sleep. My body expected to be at a count and couldn’t understand why I was in my bed.

The three day wait to know whether our advance in the polls has been confirmed is excruciating.

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to the count in Edinburgh. We won’t know the Scottish result tonight because the Western Isles don’t count on a Sunday. That means that our result will be declared in a dramatic Royal Mile ceremony by noon tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that Sheila Ritchie makes it. Some polling suggests that, in equal second, we could be contesting the third or fourth seat, but it is more likely to be a scrap between us, the Brexit Party and the SNP for the last place.

In the rest of the country, the outlook looks a lot sunnier. Support was coalescing around us as the Remain alternative to the Brexit Party. By the end of the campaign, we were polling 20%. This is way beyond anything we have ever polled in a European election before if it is realised. Everyone I know has stories of friends and acquaintances who had never supported us before turning out for us on Thursday.

Election Maps UK has a prediction which is equally stunning and sobering:

While it would be fantastic to have 13 MEPs, the thought of 30 Brexit Party representatives is not pleasant.

This gives us 3 in London, 2 each in the South East and East of England, 1 each in Scotland, East and West Midlands, South West, Yorkshire and the Humber and North West. It would be disappointing not to get a seat in Wales. These MEPs would also be joined by Naomi Long for the Alliance Party.

That, if it came true, would be incredible. It would mean that we would have come first in London which would be unheard of.

This is the first time I’ve been to a European count since PR came in. In 2009, I was lying in bed with my days old baby as the results came in and we learned that Nick Clegg had won to become the first Liberal parliamentarian in the East Midlands in nearly 70 years.

To put in perspective, here is how we’ve polled in every European election since 1999.

1999 12.10% 10 seats out of 77

2004  14.9% 12 seats out of 78

2009  13.7% 11 seats out of 72

2014 6.87% 1 seat out of 73

You can see the effect of PR when you consider that in 1994, we actually polled 16.7% and got just 2 seats under first past the post.

So anything more than 15% is our best result in 20 years.

The thought of the Brexit Party doing well is pretty horrible, though. However, if the turnout is higher than expected, this might dilute their vote share.

Some people have been crunching the turnout data from verifications already carried out and have found the the turnout is up more in Remain areas compared to 2014.

This article by John Curtice, Patrick English, Eilidh Macfarlane and Stephen Fisher has a note of caution on that thesis because there are other factors, such as whether there were local elections either now or in 2014, in play.

However, they conclude:

It does not necessarily prove that turnout has increased more among Remain voters than their Leave counterparts. It may be that both Remain and Leave voters have been more likely to turn out in Remain-inclined areas than they were in 2014. But even if that is all that has happened it is still likely to be beneficial at the margin at least to those parties that are more popular among Remain voters.

Eilidh Macfarlane is a name familiar to many Liberal Democrats. She was involved in what was Liberal Youth Scotland and was an active member of Oxford University Lib Dems in recent years.

Who knows what is going to happen? I had a nightmare the other night that we only got 4 seats. That in itself shows how far we have come in this campaign when most of us would have taken a four fold increase in our representation.

It’s going to be an interesting night. It will almost certainly be better than the heartbreaking, unremitting awfulness of 2014 when we lost all but one seat.

How many seats do you think we will get? I suspect it will be on the upper end of the Election Maps predictions but that seems unusually optimistic for me.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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9 Comments

  • David Blake 26th May '19 - 5:34pm

    We need to change the day we have elections from Thursday to Saturday.

  • Patrick C Smith 26th May '19 - 5:55pm

    It will become the finest tribute to the brilliant and gifted L/D `Stop Brexit’ EU Elections 2019 led by our chirismatic Leader Sir Vince, if the final result-fairly counted-are both higher than 13 in 1994 and the highest in L/D History and a great vindication for our triumphant leader.

    The EU Election vcitories releasing the kinetic enregy of a new army of L/D MEPS and will bode well for our supporters,new Members,hard working canvassing Teams and moreover, help to tilt the democrat vibrance and balance in favour of Remain and getting the best out of our continued EU Membership, since 1973.

    A handsome win for L/D MEPS- plus 12 -and their faith in the EU, propelled there by so many dedicated local campaigns and supporters, will also be a vindication in the best result for the late and never forgotten warrior and our eternal hero Sir Paddy Ashdown…

  • Charles Pragnell 26th May '19 - 6:26pm

    Caron your assessment is reasonable. But the picture for Scotland is more likely 3 SNP two Brexit party and it is between the Lib Dems and Greens for the sixth seat. Due to the Western Isles not counting on a Sunday , the result for Scotland will be at lunch time on!onday. If the Alliance party win the third seat in Northwrn Ireland I suspect they will be part of the Lib Dem group.

    I suspect we will win two in London and the South East , 1 in the South West, 1 in each of the other region.But will loose out in Wales , Yorkshire and Humber and North East. I think we will get the Scottish seat. My prediction is 11 seats. I think Labour may not win a seat in the South West.

  • Ashley Pragnell 26th May '19 - 7:42pm

    Just seen the latest projections for Euro elections. Neck and neck with Labour , projection is 15 seats for the Lib Dems. Brexit party 24 Lib Dems 15 Labour 14 Cons 10 Greens 4 SNP 2 Plyd 1 ? We are on 18.9 percent . Labour 19.3 . This data was provided by Britain Elects.

  • Bill le Breton 26th May '19 - 7:45pm

    Also sobering exit poll from France:
    RN 23.2%
    LREM 21.9%
    EELV 12.8%
    LR 8.3%
    UF 6.7%
    SP 6.7%

  • John Marriott 26th May '19 - 9:06pm

    In Britain the Brexit Party will win the most seats and the Lib Dems will definitely get more than one. In Europe as a whole watch for the rise of nationalism, which, in my opinion, is the best hope for us staying in after the end of October.

  • Here’s the thing. The remain parties have consistently insisted that Labour and Conservatives are leave parties. Add that to the Brexit Party and they have trashed Remain.

  • I’m interested to see how well Brexit Party does – that figure (likely to be in reality about 1/3 of 1/3) will indicate their high watermark – about 11% of the population … please can all talknof their ‘winning’ be crushed by context?

    Also, Greens and CUK need to wise up.

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