• The 2024 European Parliament elections will see a major shift to the right in many countries, with populist radical right parties gaining votes and seats across the EU, and center-left and green parties losing votes and seats.
  • Anti-European populists are likely to top the polls in nine member states (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia) and come second or third in a further nine countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden).
  • Almost half the seats will be held by MEPs outside the “super grand coalition” of the three centrist groups.
  • Inside the European Parliament, a populist right coalition of Christian democrats, conservatives, and radical right MEPs could emerge with a majority for the first time.
  • This ‘sharp right turn’ is likely to have significant consequences for European-level policies, which will affect the foreign policy choices that the EU can make, particularly on environmental issues, where the new majority is likely to oppose ambitious EU action to tackle climate change.

Far-right parties are becoming increasingly dominant in national settings across many EU capitals. Whether in election results, such as the success of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) in the Dutch general election in November, or in their ability to set the agenda from the opposition – such as the National Rally’s support for France’s regressive immigration bill in December – the far right played an important role in shaping European politics in 2023. 2024 is likely to see a continuation of this trend not only in national politics, but also at the European level, with early polls suggesting a more right-leaning European Parliament will emerge after the June 2024 European Parliament elections.

The European Parliament will likely take a sharp turn to the right after June 2024. While the parliament is not the most significant EU institution when it comes to foreign policy, the way in which the political groups align after the elections, and the impact that these elections have on national debates in member states, will have significant implications for the European Commission’s and Council’s ability to make foreign policy choices, most notably in implementing the next phase of the European Green Deal.


The two main political groups in the parliament – the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) will likely continue to lose seats (they have lost seats in the last two European Parliament elections). This reflects the long-term decline in support for mainstream parties and the growing support for extremist and smaller parties across Europe, which is resulting in an increasing fragmentation of European party systems, at both the national and European levels.

Despite this, the EPP will remain the largest group in the parliament, and therefore maintain most agenda-setting power, including over the choice of the next commission president.

The centrist Renew Europe (RE) group and the Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA) will also lose seats, falling from 101 to 86 and 71 to 61 respectively. Meanwhile, the Left group should increase their representation from 38 to 44 seats. In addition, if the Five Star Movement in Italy, which could win 13 seats, decided not to sit with the non-attached (NI) MEPs, it may choose to join either the G/EFA or the Left, which would bolster the number of MEPs sitting to the left of the S&D.

But the main winners in the elections will be the populist right. The major winner will be the radical right Identity and Democracy (ID) group, which is expected to gain 40 seats and, with almost 100 MEPs, emerge as the third largest group in the new parliament.

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group will gain 18 seats. And, if Fidesz in Hungary (which could win 14 seats) decides to join the ECR rather than to sit with the non-attached MEPs, the ECR could overtake RE and ID and become the third largest group. The ECR and ID groups together will account for 25 per cent of MEPs, and have more seats combined than the EPP or the S&D for the first time.

The EPP will lose significant seats in Germany, Italy, Romania, and Ireland, but gain significant seats in Spain. The S&D will lose a lot of seats in Germany, and the Netherlands, and will gain most seats in Poland. The RE will lose most seats in France and Spain, and make most gains in the Czech Republic and Italy.

The ECR will pick up a lot of seats in Italy, as a result of Brothers of Italy (FdI) emerging as one of the largest delegations in the European Parliament (with 27 seats). With the expected fall of Forza Italia to only 7 seats, though, the EPP may approach Brothers of Italy to join their group. The ECR will lose seats in Poland, and gain most seats in Romania and Spain, in addition to Italy. The ID will lose many seats in Italy, with the decline of Lega, but these losses will be offset by significant gains in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, and Austria.

The G/EFA will lose most seats in Germany, France, and Italy. The Left will make most gains in Germany, France, and Ireland.

Policy implications

The changes to the political groups and coalitions will have consequences for the EU’s policy agenda and the direction of future EU legislation. Coalitions on policy issues in the European Parliament tend not to be the result of formal agreements. Instead, political groups decide how to vote issue by issue.


In Austria, the 2024 European Parliament election will come just a few months before the next national election, which is set for autumn 2024. Momentum gained by the radical right Freedom Party (FPÖ) in the European Parliament election could easily affect the outcome of the national election. If the two mainstream parties – the centre-right People’s Party of Austria (ÖVP) and the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) – continue to haemorrhage support, the FPÖ could convert the success of the anti-system change vote into a national electoral victory.


Bulgaria has experienced five parliamentary elections since the beginning of 2021. This level of instability has contributed to the rapid acceleration of the anti-system vote, which the far-right and pro-Russia party, Revival, has greatly benefitted from: it won 3 per cent of the vote in the first of these five elections in April 2021, but 14 per cent in the last election in 2023, making it the third largest party. If Revival wins three seats in the European Parliament election, it will enter the European Parliament for the first time, gaining institutional legitimacy. This could set a dangerous precedent as Bulgaria’s mainstream parties continue to lose their own legitimacy: after holding its fifth national election in two years, Bulgaria is still nowhere near forming a stable government.


In France, the 2024 European Parliament election will be the first test for the latest government led by President Emmanuel Macron, which is currently hovering at a 30 per cent approval rating. It will be French voters’ first opportunity to express this disapproval electorally, and there is every chance that Marine Le Pen’s radical right National Rally (RN) will win the election. This would set the tone for the 2027 presidential election and could establish Le Pen as the potential next French president. The European Parliament elections will also be the first test for the French left after the break-up of the New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES).


In Germany, the European Parliament election is likely to see the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) become the second largest German party in the European Parliament, behind a re-emergent Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU). The election will also be the first test for the new anti-immigrant radical left Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW). The next German parliamentary elections will be held in autumn 2025. The continued polarisation of German politics will therefore be a major concern for the centrist parties, and the CDU/CSU will be under pressure to say whether they would be willing to enter a coalition with the AfD.


In Italy, the European Parliament election will be the first electoral test for the new government led by prime minister Giorgia Meloni, as well as the new leaders of Forza Italia (led by deputy prime minister Antonio Tajani) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) led by Elly Schlein. A decisive victory for Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, at the expense of its two coalition partners (Forza Italia and the League), would establish Brothers of Italy as the dominant party on the right in Italy. Meanwhile, with the PD currently predicted to underperform, initial high hopes that Schlein would reform the party’s reputation and vote share after their poor performance in their 2022 election may well be dashed. With voters on the left split between PD, the Five Star Movement, and the centrist parties, it remains to be seen whether these elections can establish a path forward for the left in Italy.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, it is far from certain whether a government will be in place by the time of the European Parliament election or whether the country will be heading towards another national election. Either way, Gert Wilders’s (PVV) is set to emerge as the largest Dutch party in the European Parliament, while Peter Omzigt’s New Social Contract (NSC) will win MEPs for the first time. A decisive victory for these two parties could encourage them to form a coalition together. Meanwhile, the combined Green-Left (PvdA-Groen Links) list to do less well in the European Parliament election than they did in the recent national election (and in the 2019 European Parliament election), which may raise questions about the viability of this alliance going forward.


In Poland, the European Parliament election will be an opportunity to see whether Polish voters have sustainably turned away from the populist right Law and Justice party (PiS), as they did in the October 2023 national election. PiS  is likely to top the poll in Poland in June 2024 with 31 per cent of the votes. The centrist European Coalition (KE) alliance is expected to come second with 24 per cent of the votes, closing the gap between it and PiS even further. Meanwhile, the new centrist Third Way (TD) should do well and win MEPs for the first time, further consolidating its position as a key ally of KE in a post-PiS Poland. Having performed worse than expected in the national election, the radical right is expected to do much better in June 2024, mainly by taking votes from PiS.


In Spain, the European Parliament election will be a referendum on prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) government and the deal Sánchez made with the Catalan nationalists to win the premiership after the July 2023 national election. There is likely to be a significant backlash against Sánchez and his deal, with the centre-right People’s Party (PP) emerging as the clear winner and with the radical right Vox winning 10 per cent of the votes. Meanwhile, on the left, the new Sumar alliance of the radical left and the greens is set to lose votes compared to the 2023 national election and compared to the combined vote share of the constituent parties in the 2019 European Parliament election.


Sweden is likely to buck the trend elsewhere in Europe, with the European Parliament election seeing a further consolidation of support for Magdalena Andersson’s centre-left Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP), following its re-emergence as the largest party after the September 2022 national election. Nevertheless, as in many other countries, the radical right Sweden Democrats (SD) look set to come second in the poll, mainly at the expense of the centre-right Moderata, which is likely to be punished for tacitly supporting Andersson’s minority government.

The implications of the June 2024 parliamentary elections are far reaching for the geopolitical direction of the European Council and European Commission from 2024 onwards. The next European Parliament can be expected to block legislation necessary to implement the politically difficult next phase of the Green Deal – impacting the EU’s climate sovereignty – and push for a harder line on key issues for other areas of EU sovereignty including migration, enlargement, and support for Ukraine. National governments will feel constrained by the way these elections shape domestic debates, affecting the positions they can take in the European Council. This is likely to bolster the growing axis of governments around the European Council table that are attempting to limit the EU’s influence from within – those of Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, and likely a PVV-led government in the Netherlands

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