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Elections 2019. A place of choice for the far right in the European Parliament

(B2) The far right (or national right) could emerge as one of the winners of the European elections in May. Without reaching a majority weight

Marine Le Pen in Sofia (Photo: RN)

The ENL Europe of Nations and Freedoms group could thus more than double its weight in the European Parliament, going from 37 seats today to about 80 seats (between 75 and 85 seats). This would propel him to fourth place among European political groups, trailing the European Liberals and Democrats.

Advances from multiple parties

The group is indeed benefiting from a double phenomenon: on the one hand, an electoral push from several of its members, in particular the Lega North Italian and the Fleam's concern Belgian; on the other hand, the rallying of certain parties formerly in other groups such as the German AFD (which evolved from an anti-European party to a far-right party) or the Danish People's Party, which become more radical. Some progressions are important at the national level, for example in Finland or Estonia, but they do not produce major developments in terms of the number of seats. As for the French National Rally, its announced score above 20% should not create any illusions. It is in fact catching up with its 2014 level and a roughly equivalent number of deputies and could no longer be the leading French party in the European Parliament (1).

A group made up of several parties

This group would be dominated by the Italians and the French who should provide, between them, a good half of the workforce. In detail from the latest polls, this gives:

  • Italian Northern League (± 32%, 23-24 seats)
  • French National Rally (± 24%, 18-20 seats)
  • German AFD (±13%, 12-13 seats) *
  • Spanish Vox (±12%, 6 seats)
  • Austrian FPÖ (±22%, 4-5 seats)
  • UK UKIP (±5%, 3-4 seats)*
  • True Finns (±18%, 2-3 seats) *
  • Slovak SR and SNS (±10% and +8%, 2 seats)
  • Danish People's Party (± 12%, 1 seat)
  • Belgian Vlaams Belang (±8%, 1 seat)
  • Dutch PVV (±6%, 1-2 seats)
  • Czech SPD (± 6%, 1-2 seats)
  • Bulgarian Volya (± 5%, 1 seat)
  • Estonian EKRE (±19%, 1 seat)

* Member of the EFDD group they have joined or announced to join the ELN group

An Italian and not a French leader

Inside the group, a reversal of trends is taking place. In the current state of the polls, the French National Rally of Marine Le Pen (ex. National Front) is losing its leading position to the benefit of the Lega North or Matteo Salvini’s Northern Italian League. Which is not the least of the changes and could cause some gnashing of teeth in the long term.

Far right or national right

Contrary to what one might think, this group would not be located at the extreme end of the European spectrum. The term extreme right can also be contested in view of certain positions which are more in line with the concept of “national right” or “sovereignism”. Other parties are frankly extremist, or can even be described as neo-Nazis, like the Hungarian Jobbik or the Greek Golden Dawn, who will try to create a group of their own, but could fail (2).

A power of influence

This weight will not be sufficient to significantly influence European policy. But it will be important enough on certain European projects to have an attractive effect on other Eurosceptic groups, or even certain parties belonging to traditional groups such as Viktor Orban's Fidesz (EPP) or Jarosław Kaczyński's Polish PIS (Conservatives). Particularly on subjects such as immigration, the powers of the European Commission or European integration. It could have a delaying effect on certain European projects.

Reinforced means

More concretely, this progression will also give the new group greater resources, both in terms of the number of positions allocated to the group as well as financial resources or use of Parliament's logistical resources (conference rooms, etc.). This will be an appreciable lever for many of the parties making it up and will have an additional attraction effect on small, dispersed parties.

Greater political weight

It will also give him the right - if the improved proportional rule (known as the D'Hondt law) is respected - to key positions in Parliament such as the presidency of committees. We will simply have to carefully observe whether the group uses the lever of parliamentary work more effectively than it has done so far. The possibility of obtaining one of the positions of vice-president of the Parliament is more symbolic in terms of power, but it has an effect of maximum visibility, since the vice-presidents take turns presiding the plenary, and gives him a right of almost inexhaustible word.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. We can remember that the group had lost, through exclusions or defections (notably among 'the Patriots'), several of its members, who had left to sit in other groups.
  2. These parties are crumbling (Jobbik), are completely losing momentum (Golden Dawn), and may even not obtain any elected representatives according to current forecasts (Bulgarian BNS).

This paper belongs to a series of short analyzes on the evolution of political groups, read also:

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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