Riding the right wave – what will the upcoming shift in the European political landscape mean for civil society?

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While the European Parliament elections are still almost a year ahead, recent polls and national developments in Europe demonstrate that we may be dealing with a more conservative Parliament during the next EU mandate (2024-2029). Hard-right Hungary and Poland have recently welcomed Italy into their ranks, while Finland and Sweden have formed right-leaning governments after recent elections. The Greek conservatives were re-elected in government last June, and upcoming elections in Spain are expected to oust socialist Pedro Sánchez from office as well. What does this shift to the right mean for advocacy at EU level?

Setting the scene

While, according to the recent polls, EPP and S&D will remain the two biggest parties in Parliament (with respectively 161 and 142 MEPs), a close race for the third place has already started. The liberal group Renew Europe, currently the third largest political group in Parliament, may be overtaken by right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which are currently polled at 82 seats (only 4 less than Renew). In other words, ECR may play a stronger role in forming majorities moving forward.

Looking at the progressives, the Greens are expected to gain 48 seats, suffering a heavy loss from their 2019 result of 67 elected MEPs (they are now 72). The GUE/NGL alliance is projected to gain 50 seats, losing 3 seats compared to previous polls.

Additionally, more than half of the Parliament is set to be replaced after the new elections, which will bring about both opportunities and challenges. Italian and Spanish MEPs from ECR and ID are the most likely to be re-elected, followed by high likelihood of re-election of Polish, German, and Spanish EPP MEPs.

Riding the wave

A shift in European politics means a shift in how advocacy will have to be carried out. What works with more progressive and environmental-friendly parties may not work with most conservative ones. Not only a change in narrative may be needed but making new ‘out-of-the-box’ partnerships might have to be considered as well.

The autumn of 2023 brings about key advocacy opportunities to engage and influence the European programmes of national parties, as well as occasions to get in touch with MEP candidates.

For more detailed suggestions on how to influence the EU’s agenda for the next mandate, or to discuss how we can help you navigate the next EU Commission and Parliament mandate, please contact us through the contact form.