The Outcome of the EU Parliamentary Elections 2024: The Likelihood of a Far-Right Wave

The Outcome of the EU Parliamentary Elections 2024: The Likelihood of a Far-Right Wave

Far-right leaders attend a rally in Italy. Source: Euronews

As the June date for elections is approaching, analyses are emerging to try to establish the outcome of the most important European Union (EU) election since 2020. This article looks at some of the prominent discourses among academics and the media to forecast how seats might be distributed among the parties. Moreover, it seeks to analyze if the recent success of far-right parties in various national elections might translate into a higher proportion of far-right members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

The decade post the Financial Crisis of 2008 has witnessed a significant radicalization of the global and European electorate, which has resulted in a far-right “wave” that has swept over most of the continent. The growing popularity of anti-establishment and populist political groups has been hard to ignore. They are no longer on the fringes of politics and have taken over some of the most significant public offices, as is the case in Hungary and Serbia, or France and the Netherlands. Unsurprisingly, the upcoming EU elections are set to be a turning point in defining the course of the Union’s future domestic and foreign policy.

However, warnings of the potential growth of the far-right in Europe are nothing new. In this sense, international media have been issuing warnings about the far-right’s rise, even during the 2014 EU elections.

So, given the current political landscape, what are the key factors shaping the upcoming 2024 elections?

According to a forecast by the European Council on Foreign Relations, the coalition of populist and radical right MEPs could win their first majority in the European Parliament, following the growing popularity of the far-right in national elections. Cas Mudde, one of the leading scholars on the study of the far-right phenomena, predicts that this political group will be a big winner this year, “not just in terms of votes but also political power”, as “the upcoming elections are expected to further mainstream far-right ideas and parties and pull the European Parliament further to the right”. As he explains, although referred to as the “European elections”, it is rather a combination of 27 separate national elections with their national campaigns and parties.

The rest of this article will thus look at three member states’ recent electoral track record to try to analyze how this might affect their choice of representatives in the European Parliament.

The Far-Right in France

In Paris, the French President Emmanuel Macron is experiencing a growing problem from the nation’s far-right star, Marine Le Pen. And he has reason for concern, as Le Pen’s Front National (now known as National Rally) has been seeing a surge in polls for over a decade. Some leading contenders for MEP status among the far-right in France include Florian Philippot, a former advisor to Le Pen, Jordan Bardella, and Marion Maréchal, who all share strong anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiments.

According to a poll conducted by IFOP Fiducial, the National Rally, now led by Jordan Bardella, has as much as 30% of the vote, compared to 21% currently held by the French President. Macron’s coalition’s response has been to emphasize the radicality of the far-right by calling the National Rally a “spokesperson for Moscow”, and comparing the current situation to that leading up to the Second World War.

This text explores the recent success of the far-right in different national elections in Europe to try and determine whether this might translate into a far-right "wave" at the next EU election.
Maine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella at a National Rally congress. Source: The Guardian

Far-Right in Italy

Meanwhile in Rome, another battle is playing out, where the Fratelli d’Italia is expected to emerge as one of the largest delegations in the European Parliament. Fratelli d’Italia, the party of Italy’s current Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, has seen a significant surge in popularity after the last national election in 2022, thanks to its focus on national values and anti-immigration policies; “Before anything else, always and everywhere, Italians”.

Furthermore, Meloni is benefitting from the support of Forza Italia, a mainstream party once led by the popular but controversial ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. It is thanks to this endorsement, that FdI has gained popularity among the moderate electorate, increasing its chances to enter the European Parliament. Although initially promoting anti-EU policies, Meloni has since toned down her criticism of Brussels and sought to improve ties with the centre-right bloc (EPP), and the Forza Italia.

Far-Right in The Netherlands

Further up north in The Netherlands, once one of the most liberal and tolerant EU members, the far-right electorate has been surging in numbers owing to economic and cultural anxieties. The country has followed its European neighbors, like Hungary and Italy, in giving numerous seats to what are considered radical populists, and as Armida van Rij from Chatham House notes, this is a cause for concern.

To understand why, it is sufficient to scratch the surface of these politicians’ messages and proposed policies. Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch populist far-right Freedom Party (PVV), won more seats in parliament at the last national election than any other party. This occurred by pledging to change EU asylum and migration regulations, and even threatening to hold a referendum on “Nexit”, the Dutch version of Brexit, an idea he subsequently dropped. Although he abandoned the aspiration to leave the EU, Wilders has held a consistent anti-immigration and anti-Islam rhetoric since the foundation of PVV in 2006. Therefore, it is not a stretch to expect he will carry and advocate these values in the European Parliament.

Geert Wilders and his associates. Source: AP


In view of this political landscape, the “sharp right turn”, is likely to significantly alter European-level politics, particularly the environmental decisions, and other foreign policy choices. Moreover, the far-right will expand their hold on the European Parliament, but analysts are cautious whether this electoral success can translate into meaningful political influence, as the far-right is not favored among other groupings in Brussels.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that the trends we see in the recent national elections are likely to appear in the 2024 European elections, with the right wing Eurosceptic parties gaining ever more seats. Analysts warn that a significant game-changer could emerge if the European Parliament (EP) sees a right-wing majority for the first time. However, it is up for debate to see how this advantage could affect coalitions with other parties, and subsequently the role of the EU in international politics.

Questions for reflection

  • What are the causes of the recent surge of far-right in Europe?
  • Does the far-right movement present a threat to democracy?
  • How is the far-right different to other political groupings?

Givens, Terri. “Voting Radical Right in Western Europe”. Cambridge University Press. 2005.

Mair, Peter. “Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy”. European University Institute. 2023.

Mounk, Yascha, and Foa, Roberto. S. (2018). “The End of the Democratic Century: Autocracy’s Global Ascendance”. Foreign Affairs. 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Outcome of the EU Par…

by Martina Vitasovic time to read: 4 min