Opinion & Analysis

A new political map: Getting the European Parliament election right


  • In response to an anticipated right-wing surge in the European Parliament election, many mainstream parties and European political elites seem to be settling on a two-fold strategy. This consists of aping right-wing policies on migration and promoting a narrative of the EU’s success by focusing on its response to the climate crisis, the covid-19 pandemic, and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
  • But our analysis of European public opinion reveals that both approaches are likely to backfire. Migration is not as central as many policymakers think, and voters hold strong beliefs about the motivations of their leaders, meaning what matters most is who speaks and not what is said.
  • Focusing on the commission’s positive agenda could also counterproductively benefit anti-European parties because European publics have a negative perception of the EU’s track record of responding to crises.
  • If mainstream parties want to push back against the far right, they should embrace an alternative agenda which prioritises national contexts, and develop more targeted campaigns designed to mobilise voters without fanning an anti-European backlash.
  • Against the backdrop of the US presidential election in November, they should also make a new geopolitical case for Europe.


About the Authors

Ivan Krastev is chair of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna. He is the author of “Is It Tomorrow Yet?: Paradoxes of the Pandemic”, among many other publications.

Mark Leonard is co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of “The Age of Unpeace: How Connectivity Causes Conflict”. He also presents ECFR’s weekly “World in 30 Minutes” podcast.

Access the original publication here