How much power will go to right-wing populists?

Five months before the European elections observers are predicting heavy losses for the major groups in the European Parliament. They see the Liberals and Greens growing stronger but the conservatives and social democrats in trouble due to pressure from far-right parties. Commentators are at odds about the extent to which this could change Europe's politics.

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Ria Novosti (RU) /

Eurosceptics pose a threat to heart of EU

The Russian state news agency Ria Novosti outlines with certain sympathy the expected strengthening of nationalists and Eurosceptics:

“The establishment is worried about the growing popularity of Eurosceptics across Europe. Vox's success in regional elections in Spain has fuelled new fears. According to calculations by the Europe Elects project, Eurosceptics will win 161 out of 705 parliamentary seats [in the next term]. ... If the plans to unite the supporters of this movement work out, this new faction could even become the second largest in the European Parliament. ... In theory it could even take the top spot, all it would need is another 17 seats. These elections could transform the heart of the EU into a focal point for the spread of centrifugal forces that could destroy the Union.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Not the end of the world

Večernji list, on the other hand, doesn't see the prospect of right-wing populist parties doing well in the European elections as a reason to panic:

“They may gain more seats, they may make life difficult for the governing pro-European majority, they may force it to water down its pro-European positions and policies, but they won't be able to take over the European Parliament. And if they're not in power, the system will make sure that the EU Parliament will be nothing more for them than a debating club, not a decision-making mechanism. ... One hundred days before the European elections it's important to stress that no, this vote will not be the end of the world - or the end of Europe. And yes, it's important to vote. More than ever.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

No chance of victory

The Italian sovereignists' dream of taking over the European Parliament is unlikely to be realised, concludes political scientist Sergio Fabbrini in Il Sole 24 Ore:

“Currently, the Lega belongs to the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group (37 members), while Cinque Stelle is a member of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group (45 members). That adds up to 82 parliamentarians out of a total of 751. Even taking into account the sovereignist positions of the 'European Conservatives and Reformists' (75 members), the sovereignist approach is only represented by 150 to 200 parliamentarians (out of 751). ... And even assuming that the sovereignist parties are gaining popularity in several European countries, it is unrealistic that they will be able to replace the Socialdemocrats in the coalition with the European People's Party.”