EU Parliament Elections 2024: Stability Amid Shifting Dynamics

The 2024 European Parliament elections reveal a nuanced landscape where pro-European coalitions maintain a majority, but significant gains by far-right parties and internal shifts among centrist groups indicate potential challenges for future governance. This analysis delves into the election outcomes and their implications for the European Union’s political trajectory, focusing on the major players and their prospective influence.

Pro-European Majority: A Fragile Stability

Pro-European parties, including the European People’s Party (EPP), Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Renew Europe, and the Greens, continue to hold a substantial majority in the European Parliament. According to the data released post-election, this coalition secures 462 seats out of 720, representing a comfortable 64% majority (Schickler, 2024). This dominant position allows these parties to influence EU legislation significantly over the next five years.

However, this majority does not guarantee an unchallenged path for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who faces a critical vote to secure her second term. Her previous narrow victory in 2019, where she won by just seven votes, highlights the precarious nature of her position (Schickler, 2024).

EPP’s Dominance and Strategic Challenges

The EPP emerged as the largest single group in the Parliament, securing around 184 seats (Hernández-Morales & Cokelaere, 2024). This success solidifies their role as a key player in setting the EU’s policy agenda, particularly favoring industry, rural development, and agriculture. Manfred Weber, the EPP leader, emphasized their commitment to these sectors, reflecting their strong support base among conservative voters.

Despite this, the EPP must navigate complex coalition dynamics. While they could continue a grand coalition with the S&D and Renew Europe, the losses suffered by these centrist allies complicate this strategy. The EPP’s attempts to court further right-wing support, such as from Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, risk alienating centrist partners essential for a stable coalition (Schickler, 2024).

Far-Right Surge: A New Political Reality

Far-right parties made significant inroads, reflecting a broader shift towards nationalism across the EU. In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally secured nearly a third of the votes, while Meloni’s Brothers of Italy garnered over a quarter, consolidating their positions as major political forces (Hernández-Morales & Cokelaere, 2024).

Collectively, the far-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID) groups now control 131 seats. Although internal rivalries and ideological differences may prevent a unified far-right bloc, their increased presence will undoubtedly exert rightward pressure on EU policy (Hernández-Morales & Cokelaere, 2024).

Greens and Renew Europe: Decline and Consequences

The Greens faced substantial losses, particularly from their French and German contingents, dropping from the fourth to the sixth largest party in the chamber. This decline reflects voter dissatisfaction with their performance and the broader environmental agenda championed during the previous term (Hernández-Morales & Cokelaere, 2024).

Renew Europe also experienced a significant decline, notably in France and Spain, reducing their influence as a centrist mediator. This group’s diminished role poses challenges for leaders like Emmanuel Macron, who relied on Renew to advance a centrist vision for Europe (Hernández-Morales & Cokelaere, 2024).

Implications for Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen’s prospects for securing a second term as European Commission President remain uncertain. Although the EPP, S&D, and Renew Europe theoretically provide a sufficient majority, internal dissent and the secret ballot process introduce significant risks. Her strategic campaign efforts to garner broader support may help, but the outcome is far from guaranteed (Schickler, 2024; Hernández-Morales & Cokelaere, 2024).

Conclusion: A Precarious Path Forward

The 2024 EU Parliament elections underscore a complex and evolving political landscape. While pro-European parties maintain a majority, the rise of far-right factions and internal shifts among centrist groups introduce new challenges for EU governance. The ability of leaders like Ursula von der Leyen to navigate these dynamics will be crucial in shaping the EU’s policy direction and maintaining cohesion in the coming years.

References

Hernández-Morales, A., & Cokelaere, H. (2024, June 10). 5 things to know about the EU election results. POLITICO. Retrieved from https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-election-results-2024-things-to-know/

Schickler, J. (2024, June 10). Centre holds in European Parliament elections, but will it be enough? Euronews. Retrieved from https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2024/06/10/centre-holds-in-european-parliament-elections-but-will-it-be-enough-analysis

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