The populist right will surge at the EU election in June, a new poll for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) forecasted.
The poll, published Wednesday, suggests big gains for the far-right Identity & Democracy faction, which could gain 40 seats for a total of 98, becoming the European Parliament’s third-largest group. The right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group is also expected to make gains.
Despite these projections, the poll suggests that the current pro-European forces of the European People’s Party (EPP), Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and Renew Europe could still cobble together a majority in the Parliament.
With so many more MEPs to the right of the spectrum, the center of gravity in the Parliament would shift away from the liberal Renew Europe group and toward the EPP. “We expect the EPP to remain the largest group in the Parliament, and therefore maintain most agenda-setting power, including over the choice of the next Commission president,” pollster Simon Hix, professor of comparative politics at the European University Institute, said in his report.
The EPP might be able to do away with the left-leaning majority, including Renew, the Socialists and the Greens, which has been crucial in driving climate and green policies since 2019. But there would be questions, especially for leader Manfred Weber, about whether the EPP would still rule out cooperating, officially or otherwise, with the far right. “It means they can’t do anything without us,” one senior EPP person in Parliament told POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook.
Interim Renew leader Malik Azmani said: “The threat of a European Parliament with the far right in the driving seat is real. In an era of crises and geopolitical uncertainty, a united Europe that provides solutions, not more divisions, is needed more than ever.” Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout hit out at Azmani, joking that he should be communicating with the leader of his VVD party back in the Netherlands who is holding coalition talks with the far-right PVV party of Geert Wilders.
A right-wing surge in Parliament may hinder green policies, affect foreign affairs and boost pro-Russia representation, with Kremlin-backing Bulgarian party Revival on track to win three seats and enter the Parliament, the new poll suggests.
Sergey Goryashko is hosted at POLITICO under the EU-funded EU4FreeMedia residency program.
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