News / 2024 EU Elections Update: New Dynamics in the European Parliament, Balancing Tradition and Change

June 2024

2024 EU Elections Update: New Dynamics in the European Parliament, Balancing Tradition and Change

Region: Europe

Author: Alban Sadorge-Hardy

As anticipated, the shift to the right in the Parliament was significant, but not sufficient to prevent the return of the current majority ‘grand coalition plus’ made up of Renew Europe (RE), the European People’s Party (EPP), and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).

From June 6 to 9, 2024, 359 million voters across Europe’s 27 member states voted to elect the 720 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Over 180 million people, or 51.01% of registered voters, cast their ballot, marking the highest turnout since the 1994 elections’ 56.7% participation rate.

As anticipated, the shift to the right in the Parliament was significant, but not sufficient to prevent the return of the current majority ‘grand coalition plus’ made up of Renew Europe (RE), the European People’s Party (EPP), and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). Indeed, it remains unlikely that the two far-right groups in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the Identity and Democracy (ID) will merge into a single entity, that would reinforce their influence on the political agenda.

While this shift to the right, discussed in one of our prior articles, is more evolution than revolution, it nevertheless poses new challenges to the European legislative framework and to the Union’s future.

Voters go right

After the June 6-9 elections, the European Parliament’s center of gravity has shifted to the right, bolstered by gains from the EPP (+14), ECR (+4), and ID (+9)[1]. Despite the far-right’s advances, the EPP and S&D remain the largest forces in the Chamber. The EPP, maintaining its first position, gained fourteen seats to reach a total of 190, while the S&D limited their losses to just two seats, securing 137 seats and retaining their status as the chamber’s second-largest political force. Within the EPP, the German delegation will continue to dominate, with 32 seats, followed by the Spanish (22), and the Polish (20). Among the S&D, the Italian (19) and Spanish (20) delegations will be most prominent.  French participation in the EPP and S&D remain numerically weak, despite doubling in S&D, limiting France’s influence within the two main groups forming the EP coalition. The anticipated right-wing surge, driven by opposition to the Green Deal and immigration policies, was tangible but less pronounced than expected.

The far-right ID group gained nine seats, bringing their total to 58 members, paralleling the success of the conservative ECR, which added four seats to reach 73 members. The French will form the bulk of the ID troops, with 30 MEPs, followed by the Italian Lega (7 seats) and the Dutch Freedom Party (6 seats).  Among the European Conservatives and Reformists, the Italians of Fratelli d’Italia will be the most numerous (23 elected), followed by the Poles of PiS (19). Outside of the right, other parties fared worse. The centrist RE group lost 22 seats, reducing their representation to 80 MEPs. The French Renaissance, with 13 elected out of 80, will remain the first delegation despite their decline. The radical left-wing group The Left lost one seat, securing 36, while the Greens faced significant losses, giving up 19 seats and ending with 52 MEPs. The German ecologists, with 17 MEPs, will be the leading nationality of the group. These results are particularly disappointing for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, whose groups faced substantial defeats in their respective countries.

In Germany, Chancellor Scholz’s governing coalition was routed by the conservative CDU/CSU, with a notable breakthrough for the far-right AfD. In France, President Macron’s Renew party garnered only half the votes of the far-right National Rally, led by the young Jordan Bardella. This prompted Macron to call for early, and highly uncertain, legislative elections at the end of June.

In Hungary, Fidesz secured victory despite the emergence of the new center-right opposition party Tisza. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s position remains strong as he prepares to assume the Council Presidency on July 1. As the EU member states’ heads of state and government begin filling top European jobs, the traditional influence of France and Germany might wane in favor of more popular far-right leaders like Orban and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni.

Who will call the shots in the new Parliament?

Reuniting the previous majority coalition (EPP, S&D, Renew) remains mathematically feasible, as the three groups collectively hold 407 MEPs, above the required majority of 361. However, with a slim margin of less than 10%, the coalition’s long-term stability is uncertain. This fragility face a major test soon with the vote to confirm the President of the European Commission. Nearly 10% of the MEPs within the previous majority coalition groups have already expressed opposition to Ursula von der Leyen serving a second term (including the French EPP delegation). To secure the requisite majority, von der Leyen will likely have to seek support from the Greens, who have historically been open to such an alliance. This support should be facilitated by the predominance of the German delegation in this group.  This broader coalition would consist of 454 MEPs, a far more comfortable margin. However, reconciling conflicting priorities of the Greens and EPP, particularly regarding the continuation of the Green Deal, will be a significant challenge.

What shots will the new Parliament call?

The broader question of the legislative agenda for European institutions remains open, particularly concerning the Green Deal. The election results are already being interpreted as a signal from voters to decelerate the implementation of the continent’s ecological transition. However, the participation of the Greens in a majority coalition would likely lead to a push for a deeper commitment to the Green Deal. This contrasts with the EPP’s campaign stance, which included ending the ban on the sale of internal combustion vehicles by 2035. Resolving these conflicting priorities is urgent, as one of the future European Parliament’s primary tasks will be to set the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2040.

The European institutions’ other work priorities will be defined by the European Council, which consists of the heads of state and government of the 27 member states. The Council is scheduled to adopt its strategic agenda for the EU from 2024 to 2029 on June 27 and 28. The balance between environmental initiatives, security, defense, and competitiveness will be equally revealing. The Strategic Agenda will inform interested stakeholders about the EU’s trajectory and legislative priorities over the next five years.

During the June 27-28 meeting, the Council will also decide on the distribution of the EU’s top jobs. For now, most likely top appointees seem to be Roberta Metsola (Malta, EPP) for the European Parliament, Antonio Costa (Portugal, S&D) to head the European Council, Kaja Kallas (Estonia, Renew) as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, and Ursula von der Leyen (Germany, EPP) for the European Commission. At an informal Council meeting on June 17, this list of names was not called into question, but neither was it made official, since in view of the shift to the right in the Parliament, the EPP is vying for even more influence over the distribution of top jobs. If von der Leyen is appointed by the Council, her confirmation vote in the European Parliament on July 18 will reveal which coalition commands a majority.


The weeks leading to the first Plenary session of the EU Parliament will be decisive in defining the  European Union’s political priorities and those in charge for the next five years. Stay tuned.

[1] All figures in this article are subject to change, as the composition of the groups is not yet official.

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