Political Trends and Dynamics in the European Union - an Outlook to the European Elections 2024

Political Trends and Dynamics in the European Union - an Outlook to the European Elections 2024

There is just over a year to go until the next European elections in May 2024, where voters will decide on the distribution of power in the European Parliament for the next five years. How will the individual parties perform? What impact are the elections likely to have on the distribution of power in the European Parliament? And what party-political orientation is the Council likely to have in the summer of 2024? We take a look ahead.

Recent opinion polls in the 27 EU member states (data elaborated in May 2023) predict seat losses for the three major centrist groups in the European Parliament: The European People's Party (EPP) will have 159 seats instead of the current 176 (-17). The Social Democrats (S&D) will also lose seats: 141 instead of 144 (-3). The liberal Renew Group is expected to lose 13 seats and shrink from 101 to 88. We expect the biggest losses for the Greens/EFA. They will lose 26 of the current 72 seats and will only have 46 seats.

On the other hand, we anticipate gains on the right and left margins of the party spectrum. The right-wing ECR would gain 16 seats and would have 82 MEPs instead of 66. We also expect a larger parliamentary group of The Left: 47 seats compared to the current 37 (+10). Furthermore, the polls predict relatively significant gains among the non-attached members, especially among the right-wing MEPs.

In the overall picture, the following can be noted: The downward trend in the vote shares of the centrist groups EPP, S&D and Renew, which has been observed since 2009, is likely to continue in the next European elections. The two largest groups, EPP and S&D, would only have a seat share of a good 40 per cent. Only all three centrist groups together would achieve a majority (55 per cent of all seats). Overall, there would be a majority of seats neither on the left nor on the right of the party spectrum. However, due to the strengthening of the Conservatives (ECR) and the right-wing unaffiliated MEPs, the political spectrum of the European Parliament is likely to shift further to the right.

This shift in power will also have an impact on Parliament's positioning in key policy areas. Some examples: In industrial regulation, the regulation of pesticides and in social welfare, the next parliament would in future advocate for a more market-oriented approach. The same applies to the transition to green energies and climate targets. Here, the majority of the new parliamentarians will in all likelihood advocate for a more gradual transition. In questions of asylum and border control, we also assume a change of direction towards a significantly more restrictive policy.

However, this does not apply to all policy areas. In relations with Russia, in the area of trade agreements or the digital economy, to name just a few examples, we anticipate continuity in Parliament's political positioning.

Let us now take a look at the Council. There, according to our forecast, we expect a majority of conservative to right-wing government representatives in July 2024. Only 6 member states might have governments led by social democrats: Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Slovakia, Malta, and (possibly) Luxembourg. We see liberal governments in five member states: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Estonia.

Similar to the European Parliament, greater political instability can be expected in the Council in the future. This is primarily because the length of the terms of office of governments in the EU member states has decreased significantly in some cases over the last 20 years. While the average term of office of a government in the EU was still 2.93 years in the decade from 2002 to 2012, it was only 2.56 years in the decade from 2012 to 2022. At the bottom of the list are Romania (0.82 years), Bulgaria (1.07 years) and Austria (1.32 years). The Netherlands (4.59 years), Hungary (4 years) and Germany (3.99 years) are at the top.

One result can already be noted: The majorities in the European Parliament will be even less clear after next year's elections. The same applies to the government representatives in the Council. Changing majorities will increasingly shape the political decision-making processes in the European institutions.

This also poses major challenges for stakeholders who want to bring their position into the European legislative process. It will become increasingly important for stakeholders to identify those groups and MEPs who can most influence decision-making in the European Parliament and who will have the greatest chance of success in the votes. Closer monitoring of debates in the Council will also be essential.

This is where EUmatrix.eu comes in. Our platform allows stakeholders to analyse in detail the positioning and voting behaviour of all Members of the European Parliament as well as government representatives in the Council. Based on objective facts, it is possible to determine exactly which political actor stands how on the relevant political issues at EU level. Would you like to find out more? Then contact us now to test EUmatrix.eu in practice.

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