European elections 2024: What the rise of the far right, the weakening of Macron and the fall of environmentalists mean for the EU

At the European level, the far-right parties remain divided into two groups and their cooperation is not considered possible

Screenshot 14 2 far right, European elections 2024

The rise of the far right, the weakening of Emmanuel Macron, the uncertain future of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the fall of environmentalists, the rise of participation: five conclusions from the European elections.

Rise of the far right, which remains divided

The far right saw an unmistakable rise in the European elections, with the National Alarm dominating in France, as did the FPO in Austria. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) came in second, ahead of Chancellor Olaf Solz's Social Democrats.

However, at the European level, the far-right parties remain divided into two groups. On one side is the Identity and Democracy group around Marine Le Pen's party from which the AfD was recently expelled due to the scandals that rocked it. On the other are the European Conservatives and Reformists around Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) party, which lost to Prime Minister Donald Tusk's pro-European party, and Italy's Giorgia Meloni's Sisters, who were boosted.

"We cannot say that this is a particularly significant increase. It's a trend that has been observed for several elections," explains Christine Verger, vice-president of the Jacques Delors Institute, however, she believes that far-right parties are not able to block the parliamentary work of the European Parliament.

Most experts do not consider the cooperation of far-right parties likely, which would allow them to gain more weight in the European Parliament.

The Polish PiS will never agree to cooperate with the National Alarm, stresses Verze, who also estimates that it is "very likely" that the rest of the far-right parties "will continue to maintain a dividing wall around the AfD".

Macron weakened?

French voters punished President Emmanuel Macron, who decided to dissolve the National Assembly. Macron's Renaissance party garnered about 15% of the vote, well behind National Alarm's 32%.

The power of the French president will suffer as his party will have fewer MEPs and therefore less influence in the European Parliament. But in the European Council, which represents the 27 EU member states, Macron remains an important factor regardless of the outcome of the election.

"France remains a big country with a president who has a lot of power," assures Vergé. The same is true for the German chancellor, whose party suffered a corresponding defeat with just 14% of the vote. Nevertheless, Germany's weight in the EU will not decrease.

Uncertain future for von der Leyen

Outgoing European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen belongs to the conservative European People's Party, which strengthened its position as the largest group in the European Parliament.

The coalition of social democrats, liberals and conservatives that elected her to the presidency of the Commission in 2019 again has the majority in the European Parliament with more than 400 seats out of a total of 720.

"A centrist coalition remains the most likely outcome of the election, so the EU will continue to function as before," said Heather Grubb of the Bruegel Institute.

However, although von der Leyen "has the majority on paper", she is "on a razor's edge", he adds. "Experts estimate she may lose about 10% of the vote" because of the dissidents, which would put her re-election in jeopardy.

The Greens

"The Greens are clearly the losers of the election together with Macron," emphasizes Francesco Nicoli of Bruegel. They lost around 20 seats and will have just over 50 MEPs.

In the 2019 election, the issue of climate change dominated, but today voters are more concerned about security, amid war in Ukraine, and inflation.

"The Greens have failed to respond to this request," Nikoli estimates. Instead, their ideas about the environment, which cause higher costs for consumers, turned voters away.

Increase participation

About 51% of the 360 ​​million voters who were called to the polls voted in these European elections. This is a slight increase from 2019, which saw a large increase in participation and the highest rate since 1994.

"It's a rather good message for democracy and the legitimacy of the European Parliament," notes Vergé.