(Image Source: Jens Schlueter - Getty Images)

(Image Source: Jens Schlueter – Getty Images)

E.U. Far-Right Parties Dominate 2024 Parliamentary Elections

Published on 28 Jun 2024

Every five years, the European Union (EU) holds continent-wide parliamentary elections to select 720 lawmakers to represent them in decision-making at the EU level. In the run-up to the June 2024 EU parliamentary elections, the current EU Parliament President, Roberta Metsola from Malta, urged Europeans to vote, especially given that  right-wing ultranationalist political parties were polling strongly.

“This Parliament gets to decide on a lot of things that matter to your daily life,” President Metsola said. “Do not let anybody choose for you. This is the importance of these elections and this is why we are encouraging everybody to go vote, to choose. We’ve seen a backsliding of democratic values in Europe and beyond. Democracy requires people to fight for it. If you don’t fight for it, it disappears. There are [far-right political] forces in this world, both inside and outside Europe, for whom Europe and its very existence is a threat. And that is what we have to fight against,” she said.

Less than a month before the June elections, a number of right-wing EU political leaders, including France’s Marine Le Pen, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, gathered in Madrid, Spain to rail against the proverbial boogeymen of leftist socialism and “massive illegal migration” (from predominantly Muslim-majority nations). This took place at a “great patriotic convention” held in the Spanish capital and sponsored by the country’s far-right, VOX party.

Public opinion polling in the run-up to the parliamentary elections suggested that ultra-nationalist political parties could possibly finish first in nine different EU states, including Austria, France and the Netherlands, and second or third in another nine countries, including Germany, Spain, Portugal and Sweden.

In June 2024, the world witnessed a significant electoral victory for many of these far-right parties. Such victories would impact regional politics across the continent for at least the next five years. In France, exit polls showed President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party getting soundly defeated by the far-right National Rally (headed by Marine Le Pen). President Macron was politically embarrassed by the results and decided to dissolve the country’s parliament (the National Assembly) while also calling for snap elections.

The far-right National Rally (RN) party came out on top with 31.5% of the vote, more than double the vote of Macron’s centrist party, which barely got second place with 15.2% of the vote and the Socialist party not far behind with 14.3% of the vote in third place. After Macron made a national address announcing his dissolution of the French parliament and announcing new July 2024 elections, his right-wing opponent, Le Pen, wasted no time in proudly gloating about her party’s electoral victory.

“We are ready to rebuild the country, ready to defend the interests of the French, ready to put an end to mass immigration, ready to make the purchasing power of the French a priority, ready to begin the reindustrialization of the country,” she declared in her victory speech

In response, French soccer superstar Kylian Mbappé publicly defended a teammate who said that French citizens from all backgrounds should politically “fight every day to stop” politicians like Le Pen and her far-right National Rally (RN). “We are citizens first and foremost and I don’t think we can be disconnected from the world around us,” said the soccer superstar. “Today we can all see that extremists [like Marine Le Pen] are very close to winning power and the country needs to identify with the values of diversity and tolerance,” Mbappe concluded, trying to appeal to young Europeans of diverse backgrounds, urging them to vote in elections as part of their civic duty.

Nearby, The Netherlands recently elected a Donald Trump-like populist leader when former politician Geert Wilders won the Dutch national elections in late 2023. A few months later, the June 2024 EU parliamentary results showed Wilders’ anti-immigration political party narrowly losing to left-leaning parties.

“This is a sad and sobering moment for all progressive Europeans. For Europe’s Muslims and racial and ethnic minorities, it is a time of deep personal anxiety,” wrote Shada Islam, a European Muslim commentator on EU politics. “Many [Muslims across Europe] feel betrayed and abandoned, not just by EU politicians and policymakers – they never cared much for us anyway – but by large parts of the media and EU ‘experts’ who failed to see the dangers of a far-right Europe, played down the threat, or deliberately looked the other way.”

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) found that black and brown people only comprise about 3% of the current European parliament. This reflects mainstream European political parties’ reluctance to put people of color higher on their electoral slates even though black and brown minorities sometimes make up over ~10%+ of national populations across European countries. ENAR also stated that this trend can be attributed to a number of factors including: structural racism and exclusion in EU societies, direct discrimination in voting, lower proportions of ethnic minority candidates, and national political parties failing to elevate minority candidates up the political pipeline to the top of their electoral slates.

Italy made global headlines in 2022 when they elected right-wing politician Giorgia Meloni (whose ultra-nationalist political party has neo-fascist roots) to become the next head of state. In the June 2024 EU parliamentary elections, Meloni’s party strengthened her hand when their arch-conservative “Brothers of Italy” political party won the most votes, which boosted her political standing both at home and abroad. Meloni’s party won the June 2024 election with nearly 30% of the vote, which was more than four times its vote in the previous 2019 parliamentary elections (and even exceeded the 26% vote that Giorgia Meloni secured in the 2022 national election when she rose to power).

Finally in Germany, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (known as AfD for short) got the 2nd highest votes in the June 2024 EU parliamentary elections, while the mainstream conservative opposition won the most votes overall. According to Reuters, AfD’s strong showing shifts Germany’s political landscape with new populist parties vying to take space from the shrinking mainstream legacy political parties of the past. This rise in German right-wing populism has also been tainted by a surge in violence against politicians and activists in the recent past. This is especially true in the aftermath of AfD members who were found to have attended a “secret meeting” to discuss a plan for the mass removal of foreigners from Germany, including those with German passports, which caused a massive uproar and nationwide protests across Germany.

From France to Holland to Italy to Germany, we are now witnessing successive electoral victories for right-wing xenophobic political parties. At both the national and regional levels, this will negatively impact the lives of millions of underrepresented minorities until the next EU parliamentary elections five years from now in the year 2029.