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The Outcome of the EU Parliamentary Elections: Insights from France, Germany, The Netherlands and Italy

The recent EU parliamentary elections have delivered diverse and impactful results across the EU’s member states. The election results have highlighted a shift in the European Union: the (far) right has gained significant ground in some countries, resulting in a quite a different parliamentary composition. At the same time, the centre-right managed to hold onto its strong position, with the EPP still remaining the largest group in parliament. In this article, UGA analyses the outcomes of the election in some key member states, and the implications for Europe and our clients.

 

France: A Surge of the Far-Right


In France, the elections saw a significant surge in voter turnout, the highest since 1994, with 51.4% of the electorate casting their ballots. This increased participation brought dramatic victory to the far-right Rassemblement National (RN), which secured 31.37% of the vote, Another far-right party, Reconquête, also exceeded the 5% threshold, marking an unprecedented high for the far right in France, solidifying its position as a leading ideological bloc.

The presidential majority list, Renew, came in a distant second with 14.60% of the vote. This disappointing performance prompted President Macron to dissolve Parliament and call for snap elections, scheduled for June 30 and July 7. The social-democrat list, gained momentum with 13.83% of the vote, while the far-left La France Insoumise and the right-wing Les Républicains saw their support decline, achieving 10% and 7.25% respectively. The Greens also suffered a setback, garnering only 5.5%.

The implications of these results for Europe are profound. The RN is set to become one of the largest single party delegations in the European Parliament, likely leading the Identity and Democracy group. This shift diminishes President Macron's negotiating power and influence in securing top European positions, potentially altering the balance of power within the EU.

For our clients in France, particularly those in the agricultural and industrial sectors, the lack of representation in Parliament could pose challenges. With few MPs advocating for these industries, clients may need to reassess their strategies to ensure their interests are adequately represented in European policy discussions.

 

Germany: A Blow to the Ruling Coalition


Germany's elections delivered a historic defeat for the Social Democrats (SPD), who secured only 13.9% of the vote, their worst result ever in nationwide elections. The Greens also experienced a significant drop, losing 8% compared to the 2019 EU elections and ending up with 11.9%. In contrast, the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) under Friedrich Merz achieved approximately 30%, reaffirming their dominance. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) finished second with 15.9%.

These results represent a severe blow to Germany's three-party coalition government (SPD, Greens, FDP), which collectively garnered less than a third of the votes. Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was a central figure in the SPD campaign, faces weakened political standing, complicating ongoing national budget negotiations for 2025.

On a European level, the CDU/CSU's strong performance bolsters the European People's Party (EPP), while the SPD's weak showing has minimal impact on the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group. The Greens' poor performance contributes to their diminished influence in the next European Parliament. Meanwhile, the AfD's success could enhance the Identity and Democracy group's power, contingent on internal party resolutions.

For various industries, these results signal potential shifts in European policy. The EPP's strengthened position may drive an industrial "growth" agenda, benefiting sectors like financial services, chemicals, and automotive industries. The Greens' decline suggests a possible easing of stringent climate and consumer protection regulations, offering a more favourable regulatory environment for businesses in these sectors.

 

The Netherlands: An “Everyone Wins” Scenario?


The Netherlands recently held its parliamentary elections in November and is still in the process of forming a new government. During the ongoing negotiations between the new coalition parties, they faced a significant test of approval in the form of the European elections before they even formed their government.

Despite projections of a major victory for the right, the newly formed left-wing alliance GroenLinks-PvdA (Greens and Social Democrats) managed to come out on top with 21.6% of the vote, although this result was worse than in the previous European election. Geert Wilders' right-wing, anti-immigration party, the PVV, which secured a momentous victory in November's national election, trailed closely behind with 17.7% of the vote, earning them six seats. This marks a significant improvement compared to the single seat the party secured in 2019. Other parties, like the liberal VVD, more or less maintained their seats.

The question now remains whether the left or the right can claim to be the big winners of the election: although GroenLinks-PvdA came out on top and improved upon their national election results, the PVV still gained five seats, by far the largest gain of any party. It must also be noted that the demographic in which the PVV is popular is very difficult to mobilise for European elections, possibly tempering their success this time around.

The Netherlands' result will largely keep the status quo intact compared to the 2019 results. Apart from the PVV, parties gained or lost few seats. However, it remains to be seen how the PVV will use its newfound influence in Europe. The party has been criticized for being lax in participating in EU politics in the past. Now that the party has substantially gained in size, it may start to take its European activities more seriously.

As is the case in Germany, the growth of the (radical) right could provide opportunities for the industrial sector. The PVV has been very critical of ‘green’ measures and is expected to oppose such regulations. However, it remains difficult to predict the PVV will use its newfound power. The typically anti-establishment party, which will now lead the new Dutch government, has a choice: cooperate in Europe and follow in the footsteps of the establishment they critiqued for so long, or weaken the influence of the European Union from within their new, strong position. Which path they choose remains to be seen.

 

Italy: A Strengthened Government Amid Opposition Gains


Italy stands out as the only major European country where the government was bolstered by the election results. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's party not only maintained its position but also saw a percentage growth compared to the latest Italian elections. Forza Italia, carrying the legacy of Silvio Berlusconi, outperformed the Lega, aided by significant support for far-right General Roberto Vannacci. Meloni's strengthened position enhances her role in European institutional decisions, although the center-left majority in Brussels remains a significant hurdle.

The opposition, led by the Democratic Party under Elly Schlein, saw substantial gains, narrowing the gap with Meloni's party. The left-far left party AVS also performed well, electing notable candidates like Ilaria Salis. In contrast, the Five Star Movement suffered a major setback, diminishing its leader Giuseppe Conte's influence and potentially facilitating a coalition of opposition forces against the current government.

For our clients, particularly those monitoring political stability and policy direction in Italy, these results highlight the importance of staying attuned to the evolving political dynamics. The potential coalition of opposition forces could impact legislative processes and public policy, necessitating strategic adjustments for effective advocacy.

 

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