Brexit Boost for Populism as Salvini EU Group to Increase MEPs After Brits Leave

(L-R) Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, President of the French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party Marine Le Pen, leader of Bulgarian Volya (Will) party Veselin Mareshki, deputy chairman of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Jaak Madison, and leader of the Czech Freedom and Direct …
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

Populist Italian Senator Matteo Salvini’s Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament are set to gain MEPs as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

After Britain leaves the political bloc, its 73 MEP seats will be split into one group of 27 which will be distributed in the parliament and 46 that will remain dormant and could be used for future enlargement of the EU, Il Giornale reports.

Given that Salvini’s ID does not have a single British MEP, the group will not lose any seats in the parliament, but instead is expected to grow by three more MEPs — and will be larger than the Green group as a result.

The “centrist” European People’s Party dominated by Angela Merkel’s party-+ is also expected to grow, earning five more MEPs for a total of 187, remaining the largest bloc in the parliament.

All of the other groups within the parliament are expected to lose more members than they will gain with the Liberals being reduced from 108 to 97 MEPs, the Social Democrats going from 154 to 148, and the Greens from 74 to 67.

The heaviest losses will be for the left-wing parties, ensuring that the European Parliament shifts somewhat toward the right.

Salvini led his party, the League, to a historic election victory during the European Parliament elections in May of this year, winning 34.27 per cent of the vote — the first victory for the party ever in a nationwide election.

While Salvini and the League have since left the government due to clashes with the Five Star Movement, Salvini’s popularity has not decreased, with the League remaining the most popular party in Italy and the right-leaning alliance of the League, the Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia hovering around 50 per cent.

The European elections also saw a victory for French populist Marine Le Pen and her National Rally, who also make up a significant part of the Identity and Democracy group.

Like Salvini, Le Pen has also enjoyed high polling numbers in recent months, leading to speculation that a rematch between her and President Macron in 2022 is inevitable.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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