Ross Gower

EU 2024 Parliamentary Elections: An Injured Left, A Surging but Disunified Right and a Persistent Centrist Status Quo

Posted on Posted in Analyses, EU & NATO






By Ross Gower, Analyst KEDISA



In early June of this year, EU citizens will head to the polls for the European Parliamentary elections. While the Parliament is typically regarded as the weakest of the three main EU institutions, its power has grown significantly in recent years, and with the ability to approve, reject and amend a large set of proposed laws, its political make-up will have large ramifications in the EU for the next five years.

The elections are expected to be a tumultuous one. Since the last EU elections, right-wing eurosceptic parties have made significant gains at the national level. In Sweden, the radical-right Sweden Democrats became the second largest party and were instrumental in allowing a right of centre Government to form. The 2022 Italian elections saw Giorgia Meloni becoming Prime Minister, now leading a Government predominantly made up of far-right parties. Most recently in the Netherlands Geert Wilders’ VVD became the largest party.

The Eurosceptic right is now expected to have similar successes at the European-level. Many now worry that these parties will become a powerful bloc within the chamber. This article analyses what the polls currently show, and what blocs will reign supreme in the Parliament.

What the Polls Show:

A number of polls on the election have been conducted recently by organisations such as Europe Elects, the European Council on Foreign Relations and Politico. While these polls differ in terms of certain specifics, they broadly show similar expected outcomes.

The two largest political groups in the Parliament, the centre right European People’s Party (EPP) and centre-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group are expected to lose overall seats. The EPP are expected to go from 179 seats to 173-180 and the S&D Group are expected to go from 141 seats to 131-143. Even if the more optimistic polling for these parties proves to be correct, and they increase their overall seats, their influence will still be diminished. This is because the total number of seats for the next Parliamentary term is increasing from 705 to 720. As such, even if the EPP and S&D were able to increase their total seats to 180 and 143 respectively, their proportion of the seats will still have decreased in the new Parliament.

The centrist liberal Renew Europe Group is expected to perform very poorly at the elections. Their current 101 seats are expected to be diminished to 82-86.

Equally expected to perform poorly is the Green/EFA group. They are expected to win only 45-61 seats, down from their current 71.

The two right-wing nationalist groups, the European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (I&D) are expected to be the two big winners from the election. The ECR is expected to grow from 67 seats to 80-89, while I&D from 58 to 91-98. Further-more, the number of non-affiliated MEPs is expected to be between 42-54. Some of these members, in particular those from Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, will add to the influence of the right-wing nationalists in Parliament.

More unpredictable is the far-left populist Left group. They currently hold 38 seats and are currently polling at between 35-44.

An Injured Left-Wing Bloc:

The bloc of left wing-parties in the European Parliament is expected to lose influence in the next Parliament. The S&D and Greens are expected to lose seats at the election, and while the Left may make gains, it will have a negligible effect on the overall size of the bloc. The 223-236 seats that the S&D, Greens and Left are expected to win collectively brings it far short of the 361 majority necessary to pass legislation.

If the Liberal Renew Europe group provided support for a left-wing alliance in the Parliament, it may have more influence. However, the 82-86 seats that they would add to the bloc would still bring them short of a majority, meaning they will need the support of more liberal members of the EPP to pass legislation. This will prove difficult though, especially on environmental legislation, where the EPP has moved to the right and fought against key parts of the European Green Deal. It may also prove difficult to convince many Renew Europe MEPS to support a left-wing bloc due to their considerable differences with the Left group. Renew Europe MEPS are typically very pro-EU integration and military for Ukraine, while the Left group have a history of Euroscepticism and opposition to military aid.

As such, while a left-wing bloc may be able to influence legislation with the support of other parties, they are going to be significantly weakened in the next parliament.

 A Growing but Divided Right-Wing Bloc:

A right-wing bloc made up of the EPP, ECR and I&D is expected to be significantly strengthened at the next election, winning 351-358 collectively. This is a significant increase from the last election. It brings them just short of the 361 seats necessary for a majority, a threshold that can be overcome by the support of Fidesz or some of the more right leaning members of Renew Europe.

The question then becomes will the growing right-wing bloc have the unity necessary to capitalise on their gains, the answer to which is rather mixed.

On the face of it, the EPP may not want to work with the ECR and I&D due to their fundamental differences on European integration and certain social and cultural issues. However, over the past few years, many of the national parties that make up the EPP have moved further right, and have been more than willing to work with more nationalist and eurosceptic parties. In Italy the centre-right Forza Italia joined a coalition Government with the far-right Brotherhood of Italy and League, in Sweden the moderates formed a Government with the support of the Sweden Democrats and in Finland the National Coalition Party formed a coalition with the right-wing populist Finns Party.

Furthermore, these parties have shown themselves willing to work with the far-right on certain issues at the EU level, such as the alliance they formed in opposition to parts of the European Green deal.

However, disunity will arise from the fact that many parties within the EPP are strongly opposed to working with the far-right. Most notably, the CDU in the EU’s largest country Germany has long had a policy of refusing to work with the far-right. Other centre-right parties, such as Partido Popular in Spain, have also tried to avoid governing with the far-right.

There are also divisions on key policy areas between the various far-right parties. On the Ukraine-Russia war for instance, Law and Justice and Brotherhood of Italy support military aid for Ukraine while the AFD, League and Fidesz oppose such a policy.

Even on the question of common EU policies there are also divisions within the

Eurosceptic bloc. The Brotherhood of Italy and Law and Justice for instance support common European borrowing as a response to the current cost of living and energy crises while Fidesz opposes such a policy. Meloni also supports a common EU migration policy that will see asylum seekers distributed across the bloc, a policy that far-right parties in Poland and Hungary oppose.

Overall, it seems that the right-wing bloc in the next Parliamentary term will be significantly strengthened and made more influential. However, divisions on key policy areas will negatively affect their ability to effectively work together in a number of areas.

A Persistent Centrist Status Quo:

The pro EU centrist bloc made up of the EPP, S&D and Renew Europe will be weakened after the next election, going from 420 seats to 390-405.

While the bloc will likely be weakened at the next election, they will still have a majority collectively in the Parliament. This means the balance of power will still be held by more moderate pro-EU parties, something that has been the case in nearly every Parliamentary term.

However, the bloc may have more trouble working together this term. As mentioned before, the EPP has shown itself more willing recently to work with more nationalist and eurosceptic parties in recent years, swinging power away from the pro-EU centre.

As also mentioned before however, not everyone in the EPP is comfortable with working with the nationalist right. As such, there will be a significant number of EPP MEPs that the centrist bloc can still rely on. Their majority can then be secured via the support of the Greens, another traditionally pro EU integration party.

As such, while the centrist grand coalition that has historically dominated the Parliament may be weakened after the next election and more divided, it should still have the numbers necessary to pursue their legislative agenda.


In conclusion, the European Parliamentary elections look set to shake up the balance of power in the chamber. A number of parties will likely lose and gain a significant number of seats.

 The left-wing bloc looks set to lose influence in the next Parliamentary term, with them losing a significant number of seats and needing the support of other parties to pass legislation. The right-wing bloc on the contrary looks likely to gain significant influence, with them increasing their number of seats and nearly having enough to form a majority, pushing the balance of power to the nationalist right as a result.

However, the centrist pro-EU status quo looks set to remain a dominant force in the chamber. The right-wing bloc will likely have its influence reduced by infighting on a number of key policy issues and the centrist bloc will retain its seat majority. While this centrist bloc will have more trouble working together next term, a combination of a reliably pro EU Green party and a significant number of EPP MEPs being unwilling to work with the far-right, their coalition will remain persistently strong.


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