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Marine Le Pen, president of the French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party parliamentary group, gestures during the party's campaign for the EU elections, in Paris, France, on June 2, 2024.

REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Viewpoint: Far right poised for gains in EU elections

Nearly 400 million people across the 27 countries of the EU will be eligible to vote from June 6-9 for members of the European Parliament. These representatives will serve a five-year term and be charged with passing and amending EU legislation. But their first order of business will be to elect the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. They will vote on a candidate proposed by the European Council, which comprises the EU heads of state or government, based on the parliamentary election results.

Amid intensifying economic concerns and longstanding fears of migration, far-right parties are expected to expand their parliamentary representation. We asked Eurasia Group experts Anna-Carina Hamker and Mujtaba Rahman why that is and what this strong showing could mean for EU policy and politics over the next five years.

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Disgraced AfD leader Maximilian Krah.

DPA via Reuters

Euro Parliament group expels AfD

Even the far right has its limits. The European Parliament’s “Identity and Democracy” group of populist right-wing parties – including the Alternative for Germany, France’s National Rally, and Italy’s League, among others – expelled all nine AfD members on Thursday.

The move comes just weeks ahead of European Parliament elections on June 9 in which the far right is expected to make serious gains. It also comes a day after Maximilian Krah, head of AfD, said he’d step down over two scandals – one involving a senior staffer being charged with spying for China, and another stemming from Krah telling an Italian newspaper that not all members of the Nazi SS were war criminals. But sacrificing Krah wasn’t enough – and National Rally leader Marine Le Pensaid her party needed a “clean break” from AfD.

The expulsion was a bold move, given the AfD’s popularity. As recently as January, it was Germany’s second most popular party, polling at 22%, though it has since dropped six percentage points to tie for second place with the Social Democrat Party.

Polls have predicted the Identity and Democracy group’s number of seats in the European Parliament could rise from 59 to about 84 (some predicted a high of 93 before AfD’s recent scandals). National Rally, meanwhile, is surging in the polls.

What does this mean? Apart from hurting its reputation, expulsion means AfD loses access to the group’s shared resources, collective voice in parliament, and possibly some funding. But it doesn’t mean AfD members can’t run. In fact, party leaders said Thursday that they remained optimistic about the election. “We are confident we will continue to have reliable partners at our side in the new legislative period,” they said.

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