2024 EU Elections: A Shift to the Right Shakes Up European Politics

The 2024 EU parliamentary elections have resulted in significant gains for right-wing populist and eurosceptic parties, leading to a fragmented European Parliament

2024 EU Elections: A Shift to the Right Shakes Up European Politics
Photo by Guillaume Périgois / Unsplash

The 2024 European Union parliamentary elections have resulted in a significant political shift, marked by substantial gains for right-wing populist and eurosceptic parties across Europe.

These developments promise to reshape the European Parliament's composition and impact the EU's future direction. The election results reflect growing discontent with the status quo, driven by concerns over immigration, economic instability, and a perceived disconnect between EU institutions and the electorate.

Election Results Breakdown

The new composition of the European Parliament reveals a fragmented political landscape. The major political groups secured the following percentages of seats:

  • European People's Party (EPP): 24%
  • Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D): 21%
  • Renew Europe (RE): 14%
  • Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA): 9%
  • European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR): 13%
  • Identity and Democracy (ID): 12%
  • The Left in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL): 5%
  • Other: 2%

Notable Gains and Losses

The most striking development was the rise of the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, which became the third-largest faction in Parliament, increasing its seat count by 5% compared to the 2019 elections.

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) also made significant gains, solidifying their influence. Conversely, traditional centrist groups like the EPP and S&D experienced slight declines, indicating a shift in voter sentiment.

Comparison to 2019

The 2024 results, compared to the 2019 European Parliament, highlight a trend toward greater political polarization. The moderate centrist parties have lost ground to more radical alternatives on both ends of the political spectrum. This shift underscores the electorate's desire for change and the growing appeal of eurosceptic and nationalist rhetoric.

Rise of the Populist Right

Several factors contributed to the success of populist radical right and eurosceptic parties. The Identity and Democracy (ID) group, now the third largest in the Parliament, capitalized on widespread discontent with immigration policies, economic anxieties, and distrust of EU institutions. The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) also benefited from similar sentiments, positioning themselves as a voice for those frustrated with the current state of the EU.

Factors Behind the Success

Immigration Concerns

One of the primary drivers behind the rise of the populist right is the issue of immigration. Many voters feel that the EU's immigration policies have been too lenient, leading to economic and cultural strains in their countries. Populist parties have tapped into these fears, promising stricter immigration controls and greater national sovereignty over migration policies.

Economic Anxieties

Economic instability and insecurity have also fueled the populist surge. Many Europeans are concerned about job security, rising living costs, and economic inequality. Populist parties have successfully portrayed themselves as defenders of the working class, advocating for economic policies prioritising national interests over global or EU-centric approaches.

Distrust of EU Institutions

A pervasive distrust of EU institutions has further bolstered the populist right. Many voters perceive the EU as a distant and unaccountable bureaucracy disconnected from their everyday lives. Populist parties have capitalized on this sentiment, promising to bring decision-making closer to the people and reduce Brussels's influence.

Potential Alliances

The gains made by the ID and ECR groups open the door for potential coalitions or alliances, which could further strengthen their influence within the Parliament. An ECR-ID coalition could challenge the dominance of pro-EU forces and reshape the legislative agenda. This prospect highlights the increasing appeal of eurosceptic platforms and the potential for significant policy shifts in the coming years.

Broader political trends, including immigration concerns, economic instability, and a pervasive distrust of EU institutions, fuel the rise of the populist right. These issues resonate deeply with many voters, who feel left behind by globalization and disillusioned with the traditional political establishment. The success of populist parties reflects a growing desire for sovereignty and national control, challenging the foundational principles of the European Union.

Fragmentation and Challenges Ahead

The 2024 election results highlight the increasing fragmentation within the European Parliament. The lack of a dominant pro-EU majority presents significant challenges for EU policymaking and integration efforts. This fragmentation will likely lead to contentious debates and potential gridlock on key issues such as climate action, migration policies, and the EU budget.

Policy Implications

Climate Action

Climate action, a top priority for the Greens/EFA and other progressive groups, may encounter resistance from eurosceptic and right-wing factions. The populist right's focus on national sovereignty and economic concerns could undermine ambitious EU-wide climate initiatives. This resistance could lead to a watering down of climate policies and hinder the EU's ability to meet its environmental targets.

Migration Policies

Migration policies will also be contentious, with populist parties advocating for stricter controls and reduced immigration. This stance will likely clash with more liberal factions in the Parliament, leading to intense debates and potential policy gridlock. The challenge will be balancing ensuring border security and upholding the EU's humanitarian commitments.

EU Budget and Funding

Debates over the EU budget and funding allocations will likely intensify, reflecting broader disagreements over the EU's direction. Populist parties may push for reduced contributions to the EU budget and greater control over how funds are spent. This could lead to conflicts with pro-EU factions that advocate for increased investment in EU-wide initiatives and programs.

Implications for the EU's Future

The strengthened position of the populist right has several implications for the EU's future. The selection of the new European Commission President, for instance, will be heavily influenced by the new political dynamics. The EU's policy agenda and priorities for 2024-2029 will also be shaped by the need to navigate a more polarized and fragmented Parliament.

Responding to Major Issues

War in Ukraine

The new political landscape will test the EU's ability to respond to major issues, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine. The rise of eurosceptic movements may push for policies that weaken the EU or even advocate for leaving the Union altogether. These developments underscore the need for pro-EU forces to regroup, re-engage disillusioned voters, and address the underlying concerns driving the populist surge.

Economic and Social Policies

The new Parliament will also have to address pressing economic and social issues. The populist right's focus on national sovereignty could lead to more protectionist economic policies, potentially impacting trade relations within the EU and with external partners. Social policies, particularly those related to welfare and labour rights, may also see significant debates as different factions push for their visions of Europe's future.


The 2024 EU parliamentary elections mark a pivotal moment in European politics, reflecting growing divisions over the future of the Union. The rise of populist and eurosceptic forces poses significant challenges for EU integration and policymaking.

As the new Parliament navigates these complexities, the need for pro-EU forces to reassert their vision and address voter concerns becomes ever more critical. This election underscores the importance of engaging with the electorate and fostering a more inclusive and responsive European Union.

The coming years will determine the EU's ability to adapt to these new political realities. Pro-EU forces must work to rebuild trust and demonstrate the tangible benefits of European integration while addressing the legitimate concerns that have driven voters toward populist alternatives.

The future of the EU depends on its ability to reconcile these divisions and chart a path forward that reflects its member states' diverse needs and aspirations.