Europe tilts right

Opinion piece (Ekathimerini)
10 June 2024

The votes are still being counted, but the European Parliament election results point to a surge of support for right-wing and far-right parties. Concern at the costs of climate adaptation and about migration, combined with economic insecurity, fuelled their performance. Despite their strong showing, the right and far-right will not dominate the new Parliament. First, the parties of the centre look set to retain a (slim) majority of seats. Second, the parties to the right of the conservative European People’s Party are divided between pragmatic national conservative parties such as Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and disruptive far right-actors such as Germany’s Alternative for Germany. 

Nevertheless, the results will have a deep impact on European politics over the next five years. The arithmetic in the new Parliament will complicate Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s path to secure enough votes for a new mandate. The path on the centre and left is narrow. But if she turns right, she risks losing parts of the centre and the left. 

More broadly, the results will shape the EU’s agenda and priorities over the next five years. Conservative parties are likely to shift further to their right on issues such as climate and migration, to avoid losing more votes. As a result, the implementation of the Green Deal is likely to encounter more opposition and the European Parliament will be more hardline on migration. Conversely, the EP election results are unlikely to undermine support for Ukraine, as many right-wing parties back Ukraine. 

The full impact of the election results on European politics will take time to make itself felt. Much will depend on the repercussions of the vote in individual member-states. Strong performances by the far-right in many EU states, for example by the National Rally in France or the Freedom Party in Austria, will give more momentum to these forces in upcoming national elections. That could eventually lead to more right-wing and far-right parties in government.

Luigi Scazzieri is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform