As the European Union gears up for the impending 2024 elections, the latest data from Europe Elects, dated November 29th, offers a glimpse into the potential landscape of the EU Parliament. The Centre-Right European People’s Party (EPP) is projected to maintain its leading position with an expected 175 seats, only marginally down from its current count. The Socialist and Democrats (S&D) are poised to retain 141 seats. However, the Greens and Liberal Renew groups face a dip, with the Greens expected to drop from 72 seats to 52, and Renew likely decreasing from 101 seats to 89. Despite an overall loss for the centre ground, these forecasts suggest the maintenance of a pro-EU coalition comprising the EPP, S&D, and the Liberals, particularly following EPP chief Manfred Weber’s recent statement ruling out any partnership with far-right parties like AfD and Rassemblement National.
Far-right parties, unified under the “Identity and Democracy” (ID) group in the EU Parliament, are projected to secure 87 out of 705 seats, a significant increase from their current 60 seats. This positions ID ahead of the ECR group, expected to grow at 82 seats. The Left group is projected to gain one seat, bringing them to 38 members.
Buoyed by their recent successful polling, the Identity and Democracy group held discussions in Lisbon on 24 and 25 November, focusing on sovereignty, migration, and security. In a joint press conference with André Ventura, president of the right-wing Portuguese group Chega, and Marine Le Pen, President of the French right-wing Rassemblement National, they outlined their objective to “build a majority in the European Parliament or a blocking minority.” The projections underline that approximately 23% of the EU Parliament seats could be held by the far-right groups, marking a noteworthy shift in the political landscape.
As the elections draw closer, more and more focus will turn to the groups’ lead candidates for Spitzenkandidaten in the elections. The Spitzenkandidaten system involves the nomination of lead candidates by the Parties, providing a transparent process for selecting the European Commission President, lending democratic legitimacy to the Commission’s leadership choice, and reinforcing the link between voters’ choices and the EU’s executive branch. However, it remains to be seen whether this will happen in practice after the process was abandoned in 2019, with von der Leyen receiving the Commission Presidency, not the Spitzenkandidaten winner Manfred Weber.
The Party of European Socialists, the political party of the S&D group, opened the application for their lead candidate on the 13th of November 2023; the deadline is the 17th of January 2024, but no name has been put forward publicly, with the electoral congress in February or March 2024.
Stéphane Séjourné is widely tipped to be Renew Europe’s candidate in the elections. ALDE, the main political party of the Renew group, will hold a Congress in Brussels on the 20th and 21st of March 2024, where its lead candidate will be elected.
The race to lead the Green party features contenders like Green chief and MEP Terry Reintke (Germany), GroenLinks MEP Bas Eickhout (Netherlands), former Latvian presidential candidate Elīna Pinto, and Benedetta Scuderi (Italy), spokesperson for the Young European Greens. Notably, the Greens are to select two lead candidates, with at least one being a woman. The final vote to determine these frontrunners will be held during the European Greens congress in Lyon on 2nd-4th February, following an extensive pan-European campaign.