Far-right surge dominates 2024 EU Elections

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks at a news conference following the results of the EU elections on June 10, 2024. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP)

Last weekend, the European Union held Parliamentary elections across 27 member states that saw major gains for the far right as well as significant losses for liberal and green parties, underscoring a growing trend in European politics. Although the final count is still ongoing, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will retain its status as the largest party in the European Parliament, winning a plurality of the 720 total seats available. The far-right Identity and Democracy party led by Marine Le Pen will win nine more seats than it did five years ago, while the two largest liberal parties in Parliament are slated to lose a combined 26 seats. The left-wing Green party also took a significant blow, suffering a 19 seat loss.

Experts speculate that Europe’s recent instability, including ongoing wars in Gaza and Ukraine as well as an economic crisis, have contributed to a growing sense of worry among voters, driving them towards far-right parties that promise more security. Such parties have also used immigration as a tool to exploit voters’ concerns about issues such as healthcare and the rapidly rising cost of living in Europe, incorrectly attributing them to the sudden influx of refugees and migrants from war-torn countries over the last few years. Soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example, false rumors peddled by social media and suspicious websites claimed that newly arriving Ukrainians were wealthy yet received significant social and financial support from aid programs, stirring up foreign resentment in neighboring countries. Consequently, right-wing anti-immigration policies became more favorable to citizens who saw outside influences as increasingly detrimental.

The rise of far-right parties also poses problems for the parliamentary process, which has had issues with gridlock in the past and will likely continue to face such issues as a fragmented right-wing group begins to exert a greater influence over the EU. Deep divides over critical issues such as the war in Ukraine will make it a tall task to pass legislation, as conservative parties from different countries argue over policy. Marine Le Pen’s Identity and Democracy party has espoused anti-EU and anti-establishment ideas, differing starkly from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party has neo-fascist roots. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has expressed interest in joining the far-right ECR party, but his position against military aid in Ukraine makes that unlikely. As fragmentation continues to increase, Parliament may struggle to pass critical policies at a time when they are needed most.

As European politics becomes increasingly dominated by right-wing parties, EU policies could potentially shift over time. Should conservative groups be able to work together to pass legislation, Europe could likely see gradual changes in select policy areas including climate change, migration, and foreign policy. Right-wing parties in France, Germany, and Belgium have already partnered with protesting farmers to try and combat existing green policies that lack support for individual farmers transitioning to more expensive agricultural methods, and could use these ties to modify legislation. In the foreign policy sector, a new immigration policy passed by Parliament expedites asylum cases, removing unsuccessful asylum seekers to their home countries more quickly. As focus shifts towards internal security and welfare, the far-right will continue to enjoy increasing influence over politics in Europe, and their policies and ideals will become a greater part of Western society.

Written by Saachi Kandula

Share this:

You may also like...