EU election: Major changes unlikely

From 6 to 9 June, the EU will elect a new parliament.

Christoph Weil

Commerzbank Economic Research

June 3 2024

Dramatic changes in power are not expected. According to the polls, the right-wing populist camp will make gains, but the unofficial coalition of the conservative EPP, the Social Democrats and the Liberals is likely to retain a majority in the EU Parliament. With the EPP likely to remain the largest party, Ursula von der Leyen, the EPP's top candidate, has good chances winning a second term at the head of the European Commission. This means that the basic direction of economic, financial and climate policy is unlikely to change much.

The European Parliament is the only EU institution directly elected by the people. Its main role is to help shape EU legislation. Although only the EU Commission can propose legislation, it must be approved by both the EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The Parliament also approves the EU budget and checks how the money is spent. It also elects the President and members of the EU Commission, who are accountable to it. As a result, the outcome of the European elections will have a major impact on EU policy for the next five years.

EPP remains strongest parliamentary group – significant losses for Liberals and Greens

According to the election polls, the conservative EPP will also be the strongest group in the new parliament. It can expect around 173 seats, a decrease of 5 seats. The social democratic S&P will remain the second strongest group. Significant losses are expected for the Liberals and the Greens in particular.

Right-wing fringe gets stronger

However, the focus of attention is likely to be on the emerging significant gains of right-wing populist parties. The parties previously grouped in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID) groups are likely to gain around 33 seats, bringing their total to just under 170. Hungary's governing Fidesz party, which wants to join the ECR, is likely to add another 10 MEPs.

It is not yet clear how these parties will organize themselves or join forces in the European Parliament in the future. The AfD, for example, has just been excluded from the ID. At the same time, the French party Rassemblement National (RN), led by Marine Le Pen, which was previously part of the ID group, appears to be seeking closer cooperation with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who leads the ECR, and her party 'Brothers of Italy'. It is therefore quite possible that there will be a larger far-right group after the elections, although not all right-wing or far-right parties will belong to it. Le Pen is unlikely to include the AfD in such a larger group.