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A look at the European Parliament’s major political factions as June election approaches

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May 29, 2024

Voters in the 27 countries of the European Union will elect 720 lawmakers to the European Parliament for the next five years on June 6-9 and are expected to deliver a shift to the right.

The parliament has for the past five years been governed by a three-group majority of the center-right European People’s Party, center-left Socialists and Democrats and liberals of Renew Europe.

Together they have steered EU policy, which has included the Green Deal and the EU response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and divided between them top jobs at EU institutions.

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These are the political groups of the outgoing parliament. The groups of the hard and far right have proved the most fluid, regrouping, renaming and relaunching since the last election.

The center-right group is the largest in the European Parliament, dominated by German Christian Democrats, with a fair smattering of Poles and Romanians. The group has forged an alliance with the socialists and liberal Renew Europe for the past five years, dividing up senior posts and driving through policies such as the “Green Deal”. But it has become more skeptical towards the green push in the lead-up to the election.

The center-left group is the second-biggest in the European Parliament, with its largest bloc of MEPs from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Workers Party. It became the focus of the Qatargate cash-for-lobbying scandal in late 2022 after the arrest of some of its MEPs and staff. It says its priority is to fight unemployment and make societies fairer.

The third group in the governing coalition is very much dominated by French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, which is expected to be a distant second to Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) in the election. “We are unequivocally and unapologetically pro-European,” the liberal group says, stressing its support for EU democratic values.

The party dominated by Germany’s Greens can claim success in the past legislature with the EU Green Deal fight against climate change despite not being part of the three-group majority. Buoyed in 2019 by a multitude of school climate protests, they are forecast to lose seats this time around as voters see more clearly the cost of the green transition. The group says the next five years are crucial for the EU’s green economy transformation.

The Left, including MEPs from La France Insoumise, Spain’s Podemos Unida and Germany’s Die Linke, prioritizes workers’ rights and economic justice, equality for women and minorities. A new German leftist breakaway by former Die Linke co-chair Sahra Wagenknecht adds uncertainty this time around to the group’s prospects.

Once the home of Britain’s Conservative Party, the hard right ECR is dominated by members of Poland’s eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS), which battled with Brussels when in government until late 2023. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) are set to become a major player in the group after the election. Still hardline on migration and believing the EU has overreached, Meloni has shown greater willingness to cooperate with others in the EU, meaning the ECR could play a greater role in the new parliament.

The furthest right group in parliament, with France’s RN, appeared set to be among the biggest winners in the election as voters frustrated over a cost of living and energy crisis and migration drift from mainstream parties.

However, the group expelled Alternative for Germany after the German party’s lead candidate, whose aide has been charged with spying for China, said that the Nazis’ Waffen SS were “not all criminals”.

The ID’s opponents have also charged it with serving Russian interests, with calls for the West to stop arming Ukraine.

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