In Italy, a Boost for the Incumbent

June 18, 2024
3 min read
Photo credit: Alessia Pierdomenico /
The European Parliament election on June 6-9 saw overall gains for right-of-center parties without a feared surge toward the far right. Across individual EU member states, however, the degree to which voters turned to the right was uneven. GMF’s Europe-based experts offer below their analyses of the results in select countries.

Italy’s right-wing government was among the winners of the European Parliament (EP) election, with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy, finishing first in the country. This signal of support for the incumbent is part of a trend in some EU member states where right-wing parties made significant strides.

Recent EP votes, which have come two years after an Italian general election, have played a role akin to that of a midterm. Unlike her immediate predecessors, Meloni has emerged from this test at the pinnacle of her power thus far. She even outshines her counterparts in France and Germany, who face results that directly challenge their leadership. 

Still, it is not all smooth sailing for the prime minister. Her party’s EP political group, the European Conservatives and Reformists, gained only a few seats, and any conservative coalition in Brussels will require the support of parties that are more centrist, or even left leaning. Meloni, therefore, faces a test of leveraging her strong domestic showing into shaping Europe’s agenda and steering its politics. Failure will consign her to a peripheral role outside Italy.

Other winners from the EP vote include Forza Italia, the second-largest party in Meloni’s government and its centrist pillar, and the opposition Democratic Party. The latter’s strong performance will make it the biggest national group inside the EP’s Party of European Socialists (PES) grouping. As such, it will play a crucial role in negotiations for the EU’s new leaders. Domestically, the election results suggest that Brothers of Italy and the Democratic Party, if they continue to strengthen, could eventually reproduce a system centred around two major parties, as was the case between 1994 and 2013.

The unexpected success story of the election, even if it achieved only 6.8% of the vote, is the Alleanza Verdi-Sinistra, which is now on course to be a coalition partner with the Democratic Party after the next Italian election. Meanwhile, the big losers are the Five Star Movement, Lega, and the parties known as the former “Third Pole”—Italia Viva, which ran together with +Europa (More Europe) under the banner of “United States of Europe”, and Azione. Had the latter three run together, they would have exceeded the 4% threshold for entering the EP.

Overall, the vote was a win for parties that support Ukraine, even if it may yet be a loss for Italian Atlanticism. Lega, also a part of the governing coalition in Rome, may well seek to regain influence, in part by attacking Meloni on transatlantic issues. The Democratic Party may be tempted to exploit the Five Star Movement’s poor performance by showcasing divergences on Ukraine, Gaza, relations with the United States, or defense policy. The real impact of the EP election in Italy may yet be forthcoming.