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Far right's massive surge will be fragmented. Euronews Super Polls explains why

Giorgia Meloni at the EU Council
Giorgia Meloni at the EU Council Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Sergio CantoneEuronews Polls Centre
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The signs all point to an overall conservative majority, but the EPP, ECR, and ID will struggle to find the common ground needed to form a right-wing coalition. The inconsistent national and political interests among different conservative forces are creating divisions that are simply too deep.

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The ever-popular far right is preparing to use its rising numbers and seal a pact for the future EU legislative majority, even if it means watering down its policies to become more moderate and acceptable to those closer to the centre.

Yet, according to the Euronews Super Polls, the expected massive conservative victory at the European elections might start losing its momentum on the very first day after the ballots are counted.

The latest data and the historical reality of EU politics show a high degree of incompatibility between the centre-right, conservative right, and far right. That means the broad right wing of the European Parliament will struggle to find the political common ground it needs to form a coherent bloc.

What's at stake?

The European Parliament's right-wing parties are divided along multiple lines: their perceptions of national interest, their visions of the EU's role, different or even mutually exclusive narratives and rhetoric, conflicting societal values, and, last but not least, each party's domestic political interests.

One of the most important rifts on the right is the divide between pro- and anti-EU feelings.

The centre-right EPP is an openly pro-EU group, while even the ECR group includes a few more liberal conservative parties, such as Belgium's Flemish National Alliance. Conversely, most of the parties that make up both ECR and ID are mostly critical of the union, if not openly Eurosceptic.

The multi-conservative coalition

The conservatives of the ECR and ID are yet to build a united front across their groups. Abandoning pro-Russia positions and distancing from the German far-right party AfD brought the Identity and Democracy (ID) group closer to the more "institutional" ECR, led by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Meloni and Marine Le Pen, the founder of ID, both paid lip service to the idea of political unity, yet the two strongest and most prominent leaders on the European right haven't managed to establish more than a "cordial relationship".

So far, the high point of their relationship remains a photo opportunity at VIVA24!, a gathering in Madrid organised by the Spanish far-right party Vox.

Supporters of far-right Vox party in Madrid as/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Supporters of far-right Vox party in Madrid as/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reservedAndrea Comas/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

A centre-right majority?

"This seems to be the message that emerged from the Madrid event, organised by Santiago Abascal's Vox, which is a part of the ECR.

Many perceived it as a sign of unity on the right, the Euronews Polls Centre team explains.

"If we think about Meloni, for instance, we have to understand that when we look at her leadership in the European right, we have also to take into account that we are talking about leaders that in some case are also heads of government, so they have different interests," said Francesco Sismondini, one of the Euronews Polls Centre's analysts.

The right-wing teambuilding session was followed by the announcement that the Dutch People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD, is being expelled from the Renew Europe group after entering into a governing coalition with the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) led by Islamophobic populist Geert Wilders.

French far-right National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen gestures as she delivers a speech on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in M
French far-right National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen gestures as she delivers a speech on stage during the Spanish far-right wing party Vox's rally "Europa Viva 24" in MAndrea Comas/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

"The timing was notable and a nod to how the Yellows of Renew apparently feel about the speculation of joining an EPP plus ECR plus ID coalition in Brussels," the Euronews Polls Centre explained.

Realpolitik and national interests are inherent to the EU political games, especially when it comes to parties that put their respective countries first.

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According to the Euronews Polls Centre's simulations, if the conservatives are tempted to craft a coalition, they should (theoretically) integrate the liberals of Renew to match the parliamentary logic of the seat numbers with the realpolitik of the EU governments' interests. But why?

Essentially, it's for two reasons: Renew's liberal values would rebalance a potential coalition that otherwise would be too right-wing oriented, and the need to avoid the isolation of the European Parliament from other EU institutions, especially the European Council with its socialist and liberal governments, such as France, Germany and Spain.

the conservatives forces and the Liberal simulated coalition

"I see two tendencies in the far right which are not compatible, said Steven Van Hecke, professor of EU politics at the KU Leuven.

"First, there is one tendency towards normalisation. And Giorgia Meloni is now the iconic figure to show that this is possible, that you can win the elections, that you can govern and be acceptable to Brussels. And this is indeed the path taken by Marine Le Pen, Van Hecke told Euronews.

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"But also there is the opposite, with a number of far-right (actors) that are on the path of radicalisation."

While Meloni will have to deepen her intergovernmental cooperation with French President Emmanuel Macron (the spiritual founder of Renew Europe) at least until the 2027 French presidential elections, Le Pen is de facto already campaigning against Macron's camp as the main antagonist for conquering the Elysée.*

Crafting groups and coalitions is not only about seat tallying: the political orientation of the EU is crucial. The only issue that seems to offer some cohesion to the right is the political mission of stopping immigration.

Nevertheless, the southern flank and the eastern and northern parts of the EU have diverging views and strategies.

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Central and Northern European conservative forces think de facto that the migration flows coming from Africa and the Middle East should be fixed in the countries on the southern flank of the bloc. This political position is not shared at all by Southern Europe's far right.

The grand coalition, EPP-S&D-Renew Europe

Despite he European Parliament's most certainly conservative majority, even the multi-conservative coalition looks like a political chimaera, Prof Van Hecke said.

"The centre of gravity will certainly move to the right, and this is something that the EPP, which will then be the central player, will be ready to use as blackmail potential vis-à-vis the liberals and the social democrats, if not even the Greens," he explained.

"I don't believe that the EPP is serious about working with Identity and Democracy; that would also be a political suicide at the national level. But it will certainly use it."

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Against all odds, according to the Euronews Polls Centre, the moderate mainstream EU political groups — that is, EPP, S&D and Renew — look set to rule the future Parliament together again.

Periodically, these three groups will have to establish temporary alliances with different political groups, even from a fragmented radical-right bloc, to allow the parliament to play its institutional role — in a kind of a "Lego coalition".

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