A new political landscape: Europe after the elections

Författare: Kreilinger Valentin, Hix Simon, von Sydow Göran

The 2024 European Parliament elections saw a general shift to the political right. At the same time, the results point to both fragmentation and continuity. In this early assessment, political scientists Simon Hix (EUI), Göran von Sydow and Valentin Kreilinger (SIEPS) analyse the outcome of the elections and consider the consequences for the politics and policies of the EU. (2024:16epa)

The 2024 European Parliament (EP) elections have produced a shift to the political right. Radical right parties have been strengthened and so has the mainstream right. Liberals and Greens stand out as the main losers. Although the Parliament has become more polarised and fragmented, there is also continuity, in the sense that the broad, pro-European centre of the party system appears to provide the basis for a centrist majority once again. The biggest party, EPP, will be even more pivotal to the politics and policies of the EU. The internal dynamics inside EPP will therefore also be an important factor in the years to come.

In this European Policy Analysis, Professor Simon Hix (European University Institute), Göran von Sydow and Valentin Kreilinger (both at SIEPS), present the results of the elections and discuss their likely impact.

Behind the aggregate numbers, they observe significant variation across Europe. The overall political signal or message from the voters is not easy to discern. The results in the two largest member states – France and Germany – stand out as the most significant: governing parties lost substantially, and the rise of the radical right is most evident in these two countries. 

As far as the direction of EU policy is concerned, the authors expect continuity in some areas: support for Ukraine, ramping up European defence capabilities, and economic issues in a broader sense. However, in areas such as climate and environmental policies it will be harder to find new majorities in favour of ambitious programmes such as the European Green Deal. And when it comes to the future of the EU, the elections could lead to a less ambitious institutional agenda.

Discussions are underway about who should lead the key institutions. The EPP emerging as the biggest party group makes incumbent Ursula von der Leyen the frontrunner for another stint at the helm. However, increasing fragmentation and unclear majorities in the chamber make her vote of investiture uncertain. Most probably a broad centrist coalition will continue to be the power basis for the next Commission, but the strategic and political choices of the political groups inside it will determine how stable such an arrangement will be.