07 Mai 2024

FIIA Briefing Paper: The rise of the far right in the European Union

By Manuel Müller
Cover of the FIIA Briefing Paper: The rise of the far right in the European Union

In the 2024 EU elections, far-right parties are expected to win more seats in the European Parliament than ever before. At the national level, too, far-right parties are entering more and more EU governments. Despite these gains, the centre-right European People’s Party, rather than the far right, is likely to play the central role in the EU institutions in the next legislature.

The EU’s consensus-based system is a safeguard against the sudden seizure of power by far-right parties. But once they have achieved a certain position, the same system makes it difficult for others to form majorities without them. The EU is therefore facing not a sweeping but a creeping gain in far-right power, as centrist political parties become more open to cooperation, and far-right positions are slowly normalised in political discourse.

Paradoxically, the very mechanisms that are supposed to protect national sovereignty (such as unanimity requirements in the Council) are the ones most likely to allow far-right parties to influence EU policy, even if they represent only a minority of EU citizens.

In a new Briefing Paper for the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, I take a look at the expected party-political composition of the EU institutions in the 2024–29 legislative term and its implications for EU policy. How far will the rise of the far right go and what are its chances of exercising political power at the EU level?

The complete Briefing Paper can be found here.

Picture: Cover of the FIIA Briefing Paper, based on a photo by Vox España [public domain], via Flickr.

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