They have the power to shape European citizens’ lives, from working rights to consumer protection to environmental safety: but which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are most influential? Who has the most political clout to impact legislation? And who has the most power to shape the public conversation on social media?
The analysis uses data and insights from the one-year period up to August 2020. There have since been some changes in European parliamentary seats and leadership positions.
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Seniority and incumbency, the time spent in office, are key factors in the political ranking. In contrast, newcomers are more adept at using social media to shape the public debate and build a community of support for their ideas. Only five (10%) of the MEPs ranked in the top 50 for political influence were elected to the Parliament in 2019, compared to 28 (56%) of those ranked in the top 50 for social influence. MEPs elected for the first time in 2019 make up 59% of the current European Parliament.
This suggests the new generation of parliamentarians take to social media to cultivate influence and break the political glass ceiling.
INFLUENCE BY COUNTRY
Politically, MEPs from Portugal wield most influence proportionally to the size of their national groups because of their leading role in shaping legislation. Most Portuguese MEPs belong to the largest centrist groups and this has a positive impact on their political clout.
Socially, Irish MEPs top the ranking for influence proportionally to the size of their delegation. We also see a clear East-West influence gap when it comes to social media influence, largely due to the reliance of the social influence score on data from Twitter, a platform not as widely used in the eastern member states.
INFLUENCE BY POLITICAL GROUP
MEPs from Renew Europe are most politically influential in proportion to the size of their group. Since the 2019 European Parliament elections, with a delicate balance of power between the biggest political groups the EPP and S&D, Renew Europe is regarded as ‘kingmaker’ and plays a pivotal role in building a majority in many parliamentary votes.
Despite trailing just behind the three biggest groups on political influence, Members of the Greens/EFA group emerge as the most influential on average on social media, followed by GUE/NGL. There is a clear pattern of left-leaning groups wielding more influence on social platforms to promote their policy positions and objectives.