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A sharp right turn: A forecast for the 2024 European Parliament elections

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New polling and statistical modelling backed report predicts a ‘sharp right turn’ at the upcoming European Parliament elections – with the Identity and Democracy (ID) group of far-right parties and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) expected to make significant gains.

●        Study reveals that parties of the ‘anti-European’ populist right will top the polls in at least nine EU member states and come second or third in a further nine countries across the bloc – a development that could see a right-wing coalition of Christian democrats, conservatives, and radical right MEPs emerge with a majority at the European Parliament for the first time.

●        The results show that the two main political groups – the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) – will see their representation ebb further. However, the EPP will remain the largest bloc in the next parliament, maintain agenda-setting power, and have a say over the choice of the next commission president.

●        Co-authors Simon Hix and Kevin Cunningham believe this shift should serve as a “wake-up call” to policy makers, given the possible threat it presents to the EU’s current commitments – including support for Ukraine and the European Green Deal.

Anti-European ‘populist’ parties are on course to emerge as the key winners of the upcoming European elections, with projections showing that they will top the polls in countries including Austria, France, and Poland, and perform strongly in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Sweden in June 2024. The expected decline of support for parties of the political mainstream, together with a surge of extremist and smaller parties, is likely to pose significant threats to crucial pillars of the European agenda, including the European Green Deal, continued support for Ukraine, and the future of EU enlargement, according to a new report published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

ECFR’S new study ‘A sharp right turn: A forecast for the 2024 European Parliament elections’, is underpinned by recent opinion polling from all 27 EU member states and shaped by a statistical model of the performance of national parties in previous European Parliament elections, including the 2009, 2014 and 2019 ballots. Based on this model, the authors, which include leading political scientists and pollsters, Simon Hix and Dr Kevin Cunningham, anticipate the two main political groupings in the European Parliament – the European People’s Party (EPP) and Socialists and Democrats (S&D) – will continue a path of haemorrhaging seats, as in the past two elections. They project that the centrist Renew Europe (RE) and green coalition Greens/European Free Alliance (G/EFA) will also lose seats; while The Left and the populist right, including the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID), will emerge as the principal victors from the elections, with a real possibility of entering a majority coalition for the first time ever.

Although the EPP is expected to remain the largest group of the legislature, maintain agenda-setting power, and have a say over the choice of the next Commission’s President, Hix and Cunningham expect populist voices, particularly from the radical right, to be more pronounced and involved in decision-making than at any point since the European Parliament was first directly elected in 1979. Far-right voices will be especially pronounced in key founding Member States, including Italy, where Fratelli d’Italia is expected to improve their seat count to a possible high of 27 MEPs; in France, where Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party is likely to cede significant ground to Le Pen’s National Rally, with the latter gaining a total of 25 MEPs; in Austria where the radical right Freedom Party (FPÖ) is set to double its number of MEPs from 3 to 6, just months ahead of crucial national elections; and, in Germany, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is projected to nearly double its representation, potentially reaching a total of 19 seats in the hemicycle. This dynamic will not only shift the political discourse rightwards in the EU, ahead of the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House later this year, it is also likely to have an influence, and potentially serve as a precursor to national elections in leading member states, including Austria, Germany, and France, in the coming period. 

Key findings from the Hix and Cunningham study include:

* Anti-European populist parties will top the polls in nine EU member states and come second or third in a further nine countries. The report notes that populist parties with rooted euroscepticism will emerge as lead parties in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia, and score second or third place finishes in Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden. The far-right grouping, ID, is expected to gain more than 30 seats and, with 98 seats in total, and to become the third political force of the upcoming legislature.

The left-right balance in the European Parliament will shift dramatically to the right. ECFR’s statistical modelling suggests that the current centre-left coalition – of the S&D, G/EFA, and The Left – will see their vote-share and representation fall significantly, with 33% of the total, compared to the current 36%. By contrast, the size of the coalitions on the right is set to increase. The principal centre-right coalition – of the EPP, RE, and ECR – will likely lose some seats, holding 48% instead of the current 49%. However, a “populist right coalition” – made up of the EPP, ECR, and ID – will increase their share of the seats from 43% to 49%.

* A coalition comprising the “populist right” could emerge with a majority for the first time. A coalition of Christian democrats, conservatives, and radical right MEPs will compete, for the first time, for the majority in the European Parliament. The role of Fidesz in Hungary (which we expect to win 14 seats) will be decisive, because if it decides to join ECR rather than to sit as a non-attached party, ECR could not only overtake RE and ID and be the third largest group, but could, jointly with ID, reach almost 25% of MEPs and have more seats than the EPP or the S&D for the first time.

*Consequently, almost half the seats held by MEPs would fall outside the “super grand coalition” of centrist groups EPP, S&D and Renew Europe (RE). Seats held by the latter will decrease from 60% to 54%.  This fall in representation could mean that the coalition will not have enough seats to guarantee a wining majority on key votes.

* There is a degree of uncertainty about the political groups some parties will eventually join. In total, 28 undecided parties could win more than 120 seats in June, and though, the Five Star Movement in Italy (predicted to win 13 seats) may choose to join either the G/EFA or The Left, the right is set to benefit the most from the distribution of yet non-aligned parties. Fratelli D’Italia’s 27 projected seats and Fidesz’ 14 projected seats will be decisive in determining an unprecedented majority for the right, if aligned with the ECR. Meanwhile the Confederation party in Poland and Revival in Bulgaria could further strengthen the right side of the plenary by an additional 7 seats, if decided to join ECR.

* The results could have significant consequences for the EU’s policy agenda and direction of future legislation – including the European Green Deal. The biggest implications are likely to concern environmental policy. In the current parliament, a centre-left coalition (of S&D, RE, G/EFA, and The Left) have tended to win on environmental policy issues, but many of these votes have been won by very small margins. With a significant shift to the right, it is likely that an ‘anti-climate policy action’ coalition will dominate beyond June 2024. This would significantly undermine the EU’s Green Deal framework and the adoption and enforcement of common policies to meet the EU’s net zero targets.

* The results could also have implications for the EU’s efforts to enforce the rule of law. In the current parliament there has been a narrow majority in favour of the EU imposing sanctions, including withholding budget payments, when member states are deemed to be backsliding – notably in the cases of Hungary and Poland. But after June 2024 it is likely to be harder for the centrist and centre-left MEPs (in RE, the S&D, G/EFA, The Left, and parts of the EPP) to hold the line against the continued erosion of democracy, rule of law, and civil liberties in Hungary and any other member state that might head in that direction.

There is a strong possibility of pro-Russia party representation in the upcoming legislature. The pro-Russian party Revival, from Bulgaria, is predicted to win three seats in the European Parliament elections, which would allow it to enter the European Parliament for the first time, gaining institutional legitimacy before the next national Bulgarian elections, due to be held June 9th, 2024. This would follow five parliamentary elections in the country since the beginning of 2021, and the rapid acceleration of the ‘anti-system’ vote mobilisers, which have benefitted parties including Revival.

* Results in Europe may serve as a precursor to other ballots in member states, including Austria, Germany, and France. In Austria, any spike of support for the FPÖ may extend through to national elections, which are slated for October 2024, while the anticipated influence of Germany’s AfD may shape the political landscape and narrative ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections in 2025. Meanwhile, France is at a crucial juncture. Amidst a 70% disapproval rating for Emmanuel Macron’s government and rising support for Marine Le Pen’s radical right party, the French president recently reshuffled his cabinet, marking a pronounced shift to the right. This strategic move, together with the results of June’s pan-European elections, could set the tone for the country’s presidential elections in 2027.

In their concluding remarks, Hix and Cunningham warn that a looming surge of right-wing influence and representation in the European Parliament should serve as a “wake-up call” for European policymakers about what is at stake for the EU. They argue that the implications from June’s election could be far-reaching, from blocks on legislation necessary to implement the next phase of the Green Deal, to a harder line on other areas of EU sovereignty, including migration, enlargement, and support for Ukraine beyond June 2024. There is also a danger, with the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the White House, that Europe could have a less globally engaged United States to rely on. This, together with a right-leaning and inward-focused coalition in European Parliament, may increase the inclination of anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties to reject strategic interdependence and a broad range of international partnerships in defence of European interests and values.

To avert or mitigate against the impacts of such a shift towards the politics of populism, Hix and Cunningham call on policymakers to examine the trends that are driving current voting patterns and, in turn, develop narratives that speak to the necessity of a global Europe in today’s fraught and increasingly dangerous geopolitical climate.

Commenting on this new study, Professor Simon Hix, co-author, and Stein Rokkan chair of comparative politics at the European University Institute in Florence, said:

“Against a backdrop of stirring populism, which may reach a new peak with the return of Donald Trump as US president later this year, parties of the political mainstream need to wake up and take clear stock of voter demands, whilst recognising the need for a more interventionist and powerful Europe on the world stage.

June’s elections, for those who want to see a more global Europe, should be about safeguarding and enhancing the position of the EU. Their campaigns should give citizens reason for optimism. They should speak to the benefits of multilateralism. And they should make clear, on key issues relating to democracy and the rule of law, that it is they, and not those on the political fringes, who are best placed to protect fundamental European rights. »

Co-author, pollster and political strategist, Dr Kevin Cunningham, added:

“The findings of our new study indicate that the composition of the European Parliament will shift markedly to the right at this year’s elections, and that this could have significant implications for the European Commission and Council’s ability to take forward environmental and foreign policy commitments, including the next phase of the European Green Deal.”


Simon Hix is Stein Rokkan chair in comparative politics at the European University Institute in Florence. He was previously vice-president of the London School of Economics, and the inaugural Harold Laski chair in political science at LSE. He has written over 150 books, academic articles, policy papers, and research-related blogs on European and comparative politics. Simon has won prizes for his research from the American Political Science Association and the UK-US Fulbright Commission. Simon is a fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Simon has been forecasting European Parliament elections since 1999.

Dr Kevin Cunningham is a lecturer in politics, political strategist, and pollster. He has worked for a number of political parties, most notably leading the targeting and analytics for the UK Labour Party. Kevin also specialises in the politicisation of immigration and worked for three years as a researcher on an EU-funded project to understand the politicisation of immigration. He runs Ireland Thinks, working principally for state bodies, academics, and political parties.

The following individuals also provided invaluable input and support on this report:

Susi Dennison is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Her topics of focus include strategy, politics and cohesion in European foreign policy; climate and energy, migration, and the toolkit for Europe as a global actor.

Imogen Learmonth is a programme manager and researcher at Datapraxis, an organisation that provides strategic advice, public opinion research, modelling and analysis services to political parties, non-profits, media and research institutes across Europe.


The methodology behind our forecast is based on a statistical model for predicting the performance of national parties in European Parliament elections.  

The model uses four sources of information about each national party in the EU:

1.     The current standing of the party in national election opinion polls;

2.     The vote share that the party won in the most recent national parliamentary election; 

3.     Whether the party will be in government at the time of the 2024 election; 

4.     and which political family the party belongs to.

The ECFR expects that there will be systematic differences between the current opinion polls and how parties will perform in June 2024. 

To identify and account for these differences, they looked at how many votes each party won in the 2014 and 2019 European Parliament elections relative to their standing in opinion polls in November-December 2013 and 2018, respectively. The ECFR then adapted our model using statistical modelling to identify the magnitude of specific factors that explain the differences between the opinion polls 6-7 months before the elections and the actual election outcomes. 

This analysis produced the following results:

  1. Opinion polls in November-December before the elections (which are all based on “national election vote intention” questions) predict approximately 79 per cent of the vote share of a party in the subsequent European Parliament election;
  2. Performance in the previous national parliament election predicts an additional 12 per cent of the vote share in the subsequent European Parliament election – meaning that after the campaign period, some voters return to the party they voted for in the previous national election;
  3. Minor coalition parties tend to perform slightly worse in European Parliament elections than their opinion poll standings 6-7 months ahead; and
  4. Green parties and Eurosceptic parties tend to perform slightly better in European Parliament elections than their opinion poll standings 6-7 months ahead, whereas social democratic parties tend to perform slightly worse.

It is important to note that in many countries, party systems and the standing of parties will change between now and the European Parliament elections. The parties in government and opposition will invariably change in some countries. More significantly, some parties will emerge, while others will die out. This additional uncertainty weakens some of these effects this far from the elections. As we get closer to the elections, these uncertainties will reduce, and the model estimates will therefore change.


The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is an award-winning, pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values-based foreign policy. ECFR is an independent charity and funded from a variety of sources. For more details, please visit: www.ecfr.eu/about/.

EU Briefs publie des articles provenant de diverses sources extérieures qui expriment un large éventail de points de vue. Les positions prises dans ces articles ne sont pas nécessairement celles d'EU Briefs.

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