6 min read — Analysis | EU | Elections

The 2024 European Parliament Elections: The Right-Wing Surge and Why Vote​

With predictions forecasting a surge in ring-wing political groups in the upcoming European elections in June, the status quo of the EU could experience drastic changes. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to raise awareness about the reasons for why more Europeans should head to the polls, followed by a comprehensive overview of the steps towards registration and voting.
The 2024 European Parliament Elections: The Right-Wing Surge and Why Vote
Image Credit: Euro Prospects

By Noa Bulyovszky

May 8, 2024 | 20:30

As the election for the EU’s next parliamentary and Commission cycle between 6 and 9 June (depending on which date each country choses) gets closer each day, the Union is sure to be entering a new era of governance. Since the results will set the political direction of the Union for the next five years, the question is whether we will see the continued dominance of the centrist grand coalition, or whether the Parliament will become ever more polarized along the political spectrum. From the first direct election in 1979, the Parliament has been led by a Christian-Democratic, “centrist” coalition of the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), combining neoliberal economic policies with liberal social values. However, in the past couple cycles, their support has steadily declined, reaching an all time low in 2019. It is likely that this trend will continue in 2024, with both groups slated to lose more seats.

Coincidentally, polls predict a rise in far-right seats, which, if materialized, have wide ranging implications for the EU’s future politics, as the center, the right-, and left-wing factions have recognizably distinct attitudes towards issues concerning Europeans and beyond. To assess the institutional implications of the different approaches, we must first look at the role and functioning of the European Parliament:

  • Legislative powers: As part of the legislative branch, the Parliament has the power to adopt or amend legislation together with the Council of Ministers (officially, ‘Council of the EU’). Currently, most laws’ legal basis require the Ordinary Legislative Procedure, and the proposals (draft legislations) are overwhelmingly (89%) adopted in the first phase, meaning that their approval is up to a simple majority.
  • Budgetary powers: The Parliament has the power to amend and adopt the annual budget as well as monitor its implementation. Even though this is a power exercised together with the Council, the EP has blocked the budget on some occasions as a form of leverage to increase its power in areas it does not have explicit influence.
  • Selection of the College of Commissioners: After the elections, each Member State, in consultation with the new President of the Commission, selects a Commissioner who must face a hearing before the Parliament. As the EP votes on the approval of the whole College, in case of a negative evaluation of an individual, the candidate usually withdraws from contention.
  • Motion to censure: If the Parliament finds the work of the Commission unsatisfactory, it can hold the latter accountable via motion of censure. While there has not been a successful vote of no confidence, MEPs have used this power to pressure specific Commissioners to resign.

The most relevant power for this article however remains the legislative process. Based on preliminary predictions, radical right-wing groups, such as the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID) could possibly form a majority coalition with the centrist EPP. While the latter group bears moderate views, the other two groups have a higher likelihood of pursuing their agenda with such an ally. Consequently, legislation concerning climate change, consumer protection, civil liberties and migration are likely to be more restrictive in their scope. Moreover, as right-wing groups tend to have more Euroskeptic attitudes, we could see the implementation of barriers against further integration — or even reversal thereof.

In addition, the European Parliament, as the only directly elected institution in the EU, is important in its role of reflecting the attitudes of the European public. Whoever has more influence in the Parliament will impact how the Union deals with current events such as the war in Gaza and the possible re-election of Donald Trump. This is all to demonstrate the importance of voting in June and making your voices heard. The motto of the EU is “United in Diversity” so voting in June is about coming together and expressing your wishes for the future, whether that is right-, or left-wing, or centrist. Since the EP derives its power from its democratic background, the most important thing is to head to the polls to ensure the EU stays representative of Europeans.  

How the elections work

Each country has a set number of Members of Parliament, proportional to its size and population. During the election, the parties of the Member States put forward a list of candidates for which the constituents can vote for. Based on the percentage of votes received, the parties can send the proportional number of candidates from their list. Due to the complexity of the EP, politicians form groups based on ideological similarities and voting patterns, but they remain free to vote differently.  

Information on voting

In this article, I hoped to highlight the importance of the upcoming European elections and the defining role that we as voters have. Therefore, I would like to ask you to open this link and check out the European Parliament’s website that compiles all the voting requirements, times, places, and any other specifications. First, choose the country where you would like to vote in – this could be the country you are a national of or where you temporarily reside – and the language in which you’d like to read the information. Then, you will be taken to a site explaining all things related to voting in that specific country, but if you want to vote from abroad, you can select that option and you will only see information relevant to you. If you want to, you can also sign up for their mailing list and receive a reminder of the steps you might need to take to be eligible to vote.  This would only take a couple of minutes and your participation would ensure that European Union accurately represent the values of its citizens.

Disclaimer: While Euro Prospects encourages open and free discourse, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of Euro Prospects or its editorial board.

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