See how the June elections will change Renew Europe’s strength

Iniciativa Liberal @LiberalPT
Advertisement of Iniciativa Liberal in Portugal for June elections: "THERE ARE DATES YOU CANNOT ANTICIPATE. YOU CAN VOTE! These elections are decisive for the European Union and Portugal's future." Undoubtedly, the Liberal Initiative in Portugal will be an absolute winner among the liberal parties contesting the European elections.

Since last year, the polls have indicated a net defeat of the liberal parties in the next European elections. While a few parties will slightly increase their seats in the European Parliament in Brussels and others will maintain the same number of MEPs, most are expected to experience defeats. 

The flagship of the Renew Europe group, the coalition around Emmanuel Macron‘s party, will record a considerable loss. In contrast, a few others will collapse, losing all their seats in the Parliament. The group has now 102 MEPs from 24 countries. But recent polls suggest this number will drop to 86! And the number of countries will also fall to 22! Hungary, Spain, and Croatia will lose their liberal seats, while Portugal will have, for the first time, 2-3 MEPs.

The substantial decrease in seats for the Renew Europe group could potentially disrupt future cooperation between the major political families in the Parliament, namely the EPP, Socialists and Democrats, the Greens and Liberals.

The final results will allow us to explore the reasons for this setback of the liberal family. No doubt, the rise of the far-right, a political ideology characterised by its opposition to liberal democracy and support for authoritarianism, in most EU member states, with its main narrative blaming liberalism for every disease and problem in Europe, is one of the central reasons. Disinformation, orchestrated by authoritarian regimes, also played a critical role in this coming defeat. The agrarian revolt, which the far-right intelligently exploited, is also a significant reason. However, we couldn’t neglect the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in several EU member societies, which impacts food security, energy poverty and employment, among many others.

The general fall of Renew Europe is the big picture. Nevertheless, not all liberal parties are expected to lose, while the regression or collapse of others is related to the national specific conditions, the unique political, social, and economic factors that influence the performance of political parties in each country.

The losers

The liberal coalition Ensemble, which includes Emmanuel Macron’s party Renaissance, is the Renew party with the most spectacular drop in percentage and seats. In 2019, it obtained 22.4% and elected 23 MEPs. However, due to President Macron’s unpopular policy, the coalition is expected to win 15 to 16 seats with 16%.

Ciudadanos (Citizens) in Spain will lose all eight seats and fall from 12.2% obtained in 2019 to 1%!

Also, Momentum in Hungary will lose its two seats. In Croatia, the Istrian Democratic Association will also lose its one seat. Similarly, the Swedish People’s Party (RKP), the Liberals in Sweden and Volt in the Netherlands are expected to lose their only seat each.

The Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) in Germany decreases its seats from 5 to 4.

In Belgium, Open VLD had 6 seats, 4 in Flanders and 2 in Wallonia. According to the polls, the party will lose 2 seats in Flanders due to the rise of the two far-right parties, while in Wallonia, it will maintain its 2 seats.

The USR Plus Alliance in Romania is also expected to pass from 28,12% in 2029 to 15% and from 10 seats to 4 or 5. This drop in popular support is due, maybe, to the successful governing National Coalition for Romania, a coalition between the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL), which has implemented policies that have resonated with the electorate. Moreover, the spectacular rise of the far-right in the country may also played a significant role in the change of the electorate’s preferences.

In Sweden, the Centre is expected to pass from 10.8% in 2019 to 4.6 and from 2 seats to 1. Also, Venstre in Denmark will reduce its seats to 2 (from 3).

In addition, a significant Renew Europe party, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) in the Netherlands, is expected to drop from 14.6% in 2019 to 10-11% and decrease its seats from 5 to 4. However, this party entered into a government coalition with the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV). Many now request Renew to expel VVD from its ranks based on an agreement between the liberals, the social-democrats and the green to implement a ‘cordon sanitaire’, a political strategy to isolate far-right parties.

Either a winner or a loser

According to a recent poll, eleven liberal parties in 10 countries will maintain their number of seats, while one will see its percentage drop.

Progressive Slovakia will increase its percentage from 20% to 23% due to the coalition government’s far-right agenda and the highly polarised political environment. However, it will maintain its four seats or win an additional one.

In Germany, some polls indicate that the locally represented Free Voters party will increase its seats from 2 to 3. 

The Democratic Party in Luxembourg will preserve its two seats.

In Denmark, Moderaterne and Radikale Venstre will again elect one MEP each and the Centre party 2 in Finland.

In Baltic states, the Estonian liberal parties, Reform and Centre, will elect 1-2 and 1 MEPs, respectively, while in Lithuania, the Liberal Movement will maintain its one seat. In Latvia, the For Latvia’s Development seems to preserve its one seat while losing 4% of votes. The Movement of Rights and Freedoms in Bulgaria, a party expressing the interests of minority groups, will also keep its three seats, while it is expected to mark a slight drop in votes.

Finally, the Freedom Movement in Slovenia will elect again 2 MEPs. 

The winners

Undoubtedly, the Liberal Initiative in Portugal will be an absolute winner among the liberal parties contesting the European elections. The party is expected to elect 3 MEPs for the first time. Liberal Initiative participated in the 2019 European elections without success, receiving 0.9% of the votes.

The NEOS in Austria will increase its percentage from 8.4% in 2019 to 15% and its number of seats from 1 to 3. Similarly, Democrats 66 (D66) in the Netherlands is expected to increase from one seat to two.

In Bulgaria, the PP–DB alliance between We Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria will increase its seats from one to 3.

In Ireland, the Fianna Fáil-The Republic party will increase its votes from 16.6% in 2019 to around 22%, increasing its seats from 2 to 3 or even 4.

Liberals in Poland participated in two coalitions, the Civic Coalition (the party of Prime Minister Donald Tusk) and the Third Way. The two alliances are members of the EPP and are now partners in the coalition government (together with the Left party). Moreover, polls indicate that both will increase their percentage and number of seats. In the previous Parliament, Renew Europe had only one MEP. It is interesting to see if the Liberals will improve or lose their representation.        

Finally, polls indicate that ANO in the Czech Republic will increase its seats from 6 to 7. However, its nationalist positions question its future membership.   

However, although it is important that liberal parties increase their presence at national and European levels, this is not enough to impede the defeat of Renew Europe in these crucial EU elections.

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