Hungarian Conservative

Central Europe, Right, Face!

A European elections-themed tramway passes by the European Parliament building in Strasbourg on 26 June 2024.
Sebastien Bozon/AFP
In this analysis the number of right-wing MEPs who won seats in the 2019 European parliamentary elections are compared to how many seats right-wing parties are predicted to win this year. The countries covered are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

There is a lot of talk about a right-wing, pro-peace turn in Europe, but the final word will of course come in the polling booths. To be able to make educated guesses about the actual outcomes, it is worth looking at what the 2019 European elections looked like, and what we can expect now in our war- and crisis-ravaged region, East-Central Europe, now that Hungarians are going to the polls tomorrow, on Sunday.

The methodology of this brief analysis is quite simple: we will look at the parties that ran and entered the EP in 2019, see which of them joined one of the right-wing European parliamentary party families, and calculate how they are likely to perform now using a seat counter based on the averages of the latest polls. This will allow us to decide whether there is reason to hope for a right-wing and pro-peace turn in Brussels. The countries analysed are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

The Black Sheep: Poland

Our dear Polish brothers and allies won a huge conservative victory in the 2019 European elections. Out of the 52 Polish seats, 43 were won by the right: 27 by PiS, a party belonging to the EU-critical ECR family, and 16 by the centre-right Civic Platform ed by Tusk.

Now the situation is less promising. PiS can only count on 18 seats, compared to 19 for Tusk’s ruling party. The radical right, the Confederation, may win 5 seats. So the formations of Poland that can be called right-wing, is expected to obtain 42 seats of the total 53. This does not seem to be very different from what happened five years ago, but PiS, an ally of the Hungarian ruling parties and a real opponent of migration, gender and the over-expansion of Brussels, has been severely weakened.

The Czech Republic

An interesting situation arose in 2019. Not only because there was a low, 28 per cent turnout in the EP elections, but also because the Babiš party ANO, an ally of the Orbán government, was part of the then ALDE, now Renew Liberal group in the EP, so we will not count ANO as a right-wing formation here. 10 out of the 21 Czech seats in 2019 went to one of the right-wing parties. The four MEPs of the Civic Democratic Party joined the ECR, five MEPs of two centre-right coalitions the EPP, while the far-right, Eurosceptic Freedom and Direct Democracy Party joined the ID group.

This year our Czech friends will also send 21 MEPs to the European Parliament, and although the right-wing formations have undergone many changes in the meantime, we can expect a similar situation as in 2019. ANO will presumably win the election with one-third of the the votes and nine seats; the right-wing parties have now joined forces to form the SPOLU party alliance, which will possibly get six seats; the Pirates and Liberals together will most likely get four; and the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party is expected to win two seats. So if we stick to the criteria of our calculation, we can expect that eight of the 21 MEPs from the Czech Republic will be right-wing. But the reality is quite different, as Babiš and ANO shouldn’t fool anyone.

They are also anti-immigration and anti-gender.

Nevertheless, at the European level it is safe to say that there will be a weakening of the Czech right. Of course, given the usual very low turnout, everything will depend on mobilization, and it is not out of the question that a completely different result might be achieved.

Slovakia

Slovakia has traditionally been the country with the lowest turnout in EP elections, 22 per cent in 2019, for instance. A lot has happened since, however: a caretaker government, early elections, coalitions, the return of Robert Fico as prime minister and then his attempted assassination. So we are likely to see a higher turnout this time, given that the Slovak prime minister was shot five times barely a month before the election, which may push voters even more towards the sovereigntist parties.

As things stand, Fico and SMER can expect a result of 25 per cent. The interesting thing about SMER is that although they agree with the conservative Orbán government on almost everything, they have always been (on paper) a left-wing party (of course, because they agree with the Orbán government they were kicked out of the European Socialist Party). So even though they are technically right-wing in European political terms, SMER cannot be considered right-wing. According to surveys, only the Christian Democrats can send one MEP to the EPP and the SASKA party can send also one MEP to the ECR. There is also a Nazi party, which unfortunately is likely to get into the EP, but they don’t have a party group to join, so I haven’t considered them. All this means is that instead of five, there will be only two right-wing Slovak MEPs in any EU right-wing party family, of the 15 seats allocated to Slovakia this year (as opposed to 14 in 2019, due to Brexit). Of course, this could change if another right-wing coalition heading to the EPP manages to pass the five per cent parliamentary threshold hurdle.

Austria

The sons-in-law are doing reasonably well, putting Western Europe to shame, with the two right-wing parties at 50 per cent in the polls. But what about 2019?

Five years ago, the People’s Party won the election with 27 per cent and 7 out of 18 seats for the EPP, while the FPÖ (Freedom Party), part of the Identity and Democracy group, won 3 seats. This means that 10 out of 18 seats went to the right.

This year, 20 seats are allocated to Austrians, with the Freedom Party expected to win with 28.8 per cent and 6 seats, followed by the Socialists with 21.6 per cent and the People’s Party with 21.2 per cent, which could strengthen the EPP with 5 seats. This means that 11 of Austria’s 20 could be right-wing MEPs.

Slovenia

The ‘Switzerland of Yugoslavia’, our neighbour, is a small state but all the more interesting. Eight Slovenian MEPs were elected in 2019, half of them for the EPP, two for the Socialists, and two for the Liberals (ALDE). The SDS (Slovenian Democratic Party), led by Janez Janša, won the election then and will probably win again.

This year our neighbours will elect nine MEPs. Polls show that the Janša party could get 28 per cent and send four MEPs to the EPP. The New Slovenian Christian Democrats Party will also get in, giving one more member to the EPP, adding up to a total of five out of nine MEPs. However, if the radical left enters the EP, then only four mandates will be allocated to the right.

Croatia

In 2019, four EPP, one ECR and one EFDD (a now defunct formation) MEPs strengthened the right in the European Parliament, adding up to a total of six out of 12. The election was won by the ruling HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) with 22.7 per cent and they will most probably win again this year.

According to the latest polls, HDZ can expect 32 per cent and five seats in the EPP; DP (Homeland Movement) will also enter and strengthen a yet undecided right-wing faction with one seat. So this time we can expect six right-wing MEPs out of 12, but it could be seven if the Most (Bridge) party joins the EPP.

Hungary

In Hungary, we always believe that the opposition, the left, cannot get any weaker. In 2019, Orbán’s Fidesz⁠⁠KDNP won 13 out of 21 seats, and no other right-wing party got in. Fidesz started in the EPP, but then left, and it has still not been decided which political family it join, although many predict it will be the ECR.

Now the situation has been turned on its head, with a formerly mostly unknown ex-Fidesz cadre, whose only substantial achievement so far has been that he used to be married to ex-justice minister Judit Varga, carrying out a glamorous media hack with his Respect and Freedom Party (TISZA) and fooling a large part of the angry, disillusioned opposition voters. His stunt may cause the demise of such left-liberal opposition parties as Momentum or the Socialists, while it has not really impacted Fidesz, which has only seen a minimal drop in the recent polls and is most likely sending 11 MEPs to the EP again.

However, TISZA may easily win as many as five or six seats, while the left-wing grand coalition is likely to have to make do with three, and the radical right-wing newcomer Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland), to join ID, will probably win one seat. So a total of just three left-wing MEPs from Hungary could go to the EP, as TISZA has already repeatedly stated that it would join the EPP. Therefore

instead of the 13 MEPs in 2019, Hungary will probably send 18 right-wing representatives to Brussels tomorrow.

Romania

Romania has 33 elected MEPs, currently 14 EPP and one ECR, so altogether 15 right-wing MEPs in Brussels. It is hard to assess the situation this year, because there is a coalition between the People’s Party and the Socialist Party. Also, while the Socialist Party will probably win two-thirds of the seats, this is not also not certain yet.

According to the polls, this grand National Coalition for Romania would win 45.76 per cent or the votes, and thus 19 seats in the European Parliament. The allocation of the other seats is no easier to predict, because, as is typical in Romania, everyone is running in coalitions, with even EPP candidates joining forces with Renew Europe candidates. The runner-up could be the radical right-wing, anti-Hungarian AUR coalition, headed to the ECR, with 18.4 per cent of the votes and seven seats (we are not rooting for them, frankly); the third place could go to a coalition of two EPP parties and one Renew party with five seats. I really hope that Hungarian RMDSZ (UDMR), whose MEPs would sit in the European People’s Party group, will manage to pass the threshold and collect more than 5 per cent of the votes, as the most recent polls predict, sending two MEPs to Brussels.

So a very rough estimate is that out of 33, 14 EPP and seven ECR Romanian MEPs could go to Brussels, so a total of 21 out of 33, which is a big boost compared to 2019.

Bulgaria

Finally, we come to politically turbulent Bulgaria, where there have been more elections in the last five years than ever before. Five years ago, 17 Bulgarian MEPs were allowed to sit in the EP and that’s how many there will be now. Then, with seven EPP and two ECR MEPs, the right won nine seats.

The long-suffering but finally victorious Boyko Borissov’s GERB party could win again with 27.35 per cent, sending five or six MEPs to the EPP; the four-party PP-DB coalition may or may not joint the EPP or the ECR, with three to four seats; the liberal DPS party may get three seats, with their MEP(s) joining the Renew Group; the far-right, so far non-aligned Revival party, who may join the ID group, may also win three seats; the Bulgarian Socialist Party may end up with two MEPs, to be sitting in the S&D group, while the There Is Such a People may get to send one MEP to the EP, strengthening the ECR.

So, all considered, the Bulgarian right may end up with as many as 13 seats of the 17, which is a significant rise compared to five years ago.

Let’s sum it up!

The table below sums up the above calculations:

CountryRight-wing MEPs of total 2019Right-wing MEPs of total 2024 (prediction)
Poland43/5242/53
Czechia10/218/21
Slovakia5/142/15
Austria10/18/11/20
Slovenia4/85/9
Croatia6/127/12
Hungary13/2118/21
Romania15/3321/33
Bulgaria9/1713/17
Right wing MEPs/Total MEPs115/196127/201

So the predicted outcome for our region as a whole is that while 58.7 per cent of the MEPs joined a right-wing group in 2019, close to 63.2 per cent are expected to do so this year.

This is an undeniable gain, albeit a minimal one.

On the other hand, we should not forget that, for example, five MEPs from Fico’s SMER will no longer strengthen the left, and there are nine MEPs from the Czech ANO (which, according to recent news, may leave the liberal Renew Europe), with whom Fidesz agrees on key European issues, and will also vote with the Hungarian conservative MEPs on war, gender and migration.

It is also important to remember that it is difficult to expect a big right-wing surge where the right was already very strong. Be that as it may, I am confident that the hearts and minds of Central and Eastern Europe are in the right place; the future is hopeful, and we are looking forward to Sunday with great expectations.


Read more on the European elections:

Croatian Right Expected to Win European Election As Well After Coming in First in April General Election
Geert Wilders’ PVV Makes Big Gains on First EP Election Day
In this analysis the number of right-wing MEPs who won seats in the 2019 European parliamentary elections are compared to how many seats right-wing parties are predicted to win this year. The countries covered are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

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