Analysis: will EU’s election from June 6-9 give rise to a far-right supergroup in Europe?

on Jun 5, 2024
  • 370 million Europeans to vote in EU elections from June 6-9.
  • Far-right parties expected to gain over one-fifth of the seats.
  • Significant implications for EU policies on migration and climate change.

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From June 6 to June 9, nearly 370 million Europeans will head to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament, the EU’s only directly elected institution.

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This massive democratic exercise, second only to India in size, will determine the future direction of the 27-member bloc on key issues such as climate change, migration, and foreign policy.

Far-right parties poised for gains

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The upcoming elections are expected to see significant gains for far-right parties amid growing discontent with centrist policies.

Predictions indicate that the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID) parties could capture over one-fifth of the seats.

This shift could impact the EU’s stance on various policies, including its approach to climate action and migration.

Centre-right and centre-left face challenges

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The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are projected to remain influential but may lose seats due to declining support in countries like France.

Public discontent with President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party could weaken the liberal Renew Europe (RE) group’s position, while The Greens are also expected to see a reduction in their influence.

370 M Europeans to elect 720 members of the European Parliament

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In the European elections, voters choose national political parties, which then join European transnational political groups based on ideology.

The largest groups historically have been the centre-right EPP and the centre-left S&D. Other significant groups include the liberals in RE and The Greens.

Right-wing populist parties are split between the ECR, which supports close ties with the United States, and the ID, which favors Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Voting starts on June 6 in the Netherlands and continues until June 9 across the rest of the EU, with results expected later that evening.

Germany, France, Italy, and Spain will elect the most members due to their larger populations, with Germany having 96 seats, France 81, Italy 76, and Spain 61.

Projected election outcomes

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Forecasts suggest that while the EPP and S&D will retain their leadership roles, they will face losses.

This is largely due to decreased support for Macron’s Renaissance party and The Greens, who had previously seen gains in 2019.

The radical right, including parties like Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, are expected to be the big winners, potentially leading in Austria, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.

Implications of the far-right surge

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The rise of far-right parties could significantly alter EU policies.

Their strong stance on anti-migration could lead to more stringent border controls and a reduction in migrant acceptance.

They also oppose the EU’s Green Deal, arguing that climate action burdens European businesses and farmers.

The potential shift in the EU’s political landscape could hinder progress on climate initiatives and alter the bloc’s approach to international relations.

Far-right parties expected to make significant gains in EU elections

The expected gains for far-right parties could reshape the EU’s policies on several fronts.

Anti-migrant rhetoric has been a key part of their campaign, with parties like France’s Reconquete pushing for stricter immigration controls.

Far-right groups are also likely to resist climate policies, arguing that these measures hurt European competitiveness

slow down or even reverse some of the EU’s ambitious climate goals.

Internal divisions within the far-right

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Despite their expected gains, far-right groups face internal divisions, particularly on issues like Ukraine.

The ECR, including Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, generally supports military aid to Ukraine, while others in the ID group, such as Austria’s Freedom Party and Italy’s League, oppose sanctions against Russia and aid to Ukraine.

These differences may prevent the formation of a unified far-right bloc, limiting their ability to influence policy.

Potential for a far-right EU supergroup

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While a unified far-right group seems unlikely due to internal divisions, these parties could still play a king-maker role in the European Parliament.

Their influence could grow through strategic alliances and issue-based collaborations. Hungary’s Fidesz, for example, has opted to join the Non-Inscrits group after leaving the EPP, seeking alliances outside traditional political groups.

Impact on EU leadership

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The rise of far-right parties could also affect EU leadership positions.

The current European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, from the EPP, might see her coalition slide further to the right, potentially collaborating more with Eurosceptic parties.

This shift could influence the EU’s overall policy direction, emphasizing national sovereignty and conservative values.

What is at stake in the EU elections?

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The rise of radical right-wing parties in the European Parliament would have profound implications for EU policies on migration, climate change, and social issues.

Anti-migrant policies could become more stringent, and climate action might face significant resistance.

The potential shift in the EU’s policy direction could impact everything from environmental regulations to trade agreements and social rights.

Climate and migration policies

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Far-right groups are expected to push for hardline migration policies, focusing on strengthening external borders and outsourcing migrant responsibilities to third countries.

They are also likely to oppose the EU’s Green Deal, arguing that it places undue burdens on European businesses.

This opposition could slow down the EU’s progress on climate initiatives and alter its approach to environmental sustainability.

Potential for increased influence

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Even without forming a unified bloc, far-right parties could increase their influence in the European Parliament.

Their role as king-makers on key issues could allow them to shape policies and decisions significantly.

This influence could be particularly felt in areas where they find common ground, such as migration and opposition to certain EU regulations.

As nearly 370 million Europeans prepare to vote in the upcoming elections, the political landscape of the European Union stands at a critical juncture.

The expected gains for far-right parties could reshape the EU’s policies and priorities, impacting everything from migration to climate action.

While the traditional centre-right and centre-left blocs are projected to retain their influence, they face significant challenges from a rising tide of radical right-wing sentiment.

The outcomes of these elections will not only determine the composition of the European Parliament but also the future direction of the EU.

EUR Economic Political