Jobbik, BNP move to form pan-European far-right alliance

26.10.09 @ 17:39

  1. By Leigh Phillips

BRUSSELS - A clutch of far-right political parties have cobbled together an alliance of convenience to represent their interests in the European Parliament, the leader of Hungary's extreme nationalist grouping, Jobbik, announced in Budapest over the weekend.

  • Krisztina Morvai, who successfully headed Jobbik's 2009 EP candidate list and Gabor Vona, party chairman (Photo: Wikipedia)

Far-right monitoring groups however say that the coalition is made up for the most part of ultra-right wing groupuscules that have no representation in Strasbourg, meaning they will not be able to draw on any public funding for staff or research.

Gabor Vona, the Jobbik party chairman, announced in Budapest on Saturday (24 October) the founding of the "Alliance of European Nationalist Movements," in a declaration of common goals drafted by the British National Party's (BNP) leader, Nick Griffin.

Five parties have initially signed the nine-point declaration: Jobbik, France's Front National, Italy's Fiamma Tricolore, Sweden's National Democrats and Belgium's Walloon extremists, the Front Nationalists.

Although the BNP was not in attendance at the launch, the BNP is "100 percent" behind the new grouping, Jobbik's vice-president and one of three MEPs in Strasbourg Zoltran Balczo, told EUobserver. Mr Griffin could not attend the founding meeting in Hungary due to the increased demands on the British group in the wake of the publicity it received from its invitation to a BBC political talk show.

The alliance is currently involved in negotiations with other far-right groups in Spain and Portugal. Austria's Freedom Party (FPO) has also expressed an intention to join, according to Gabor Vona, Jobbik's domestic leader. FPO euro-deputy Andreas Moelzer was also due to attend, but fell ill and could not go.

The declaration rejects "any attempts at forming an EU federal state," calls for pro-family policies and "traditional values" and demands Europe be protected from "religious, political, economic and financial imperialism."

Each of the parties are to submit one representative to a presidency body that will co-ordinate decisions. The presidency will then elect its own chief from the group.

Only Jobbik, the French Front National, the BNP and the FPO have any representation in the European Parliament, missing by some degree the minimum number of MEPs the chamber requires to form an official political grouping and access EU cash.

To do so, a political family, as they are known in EU circles, needs to muster a minimum of 25 deputies from at least 7 member states.

While Jobbik won 14.7 percent of the vote in Hungary in the June European elections, giving it three seats in Strasbourg, and the BNP won two, most of the other parties did not even garner 1 percent.

Mr Balczo says that this is only a short-term obstacle. "These rules are just for a faction in the parliament. There are other possibilities: The first step is to found a European party that is recognised by the parliament. This will be done in either Brussels or Strasbourg.

"For a pan-European party, which is separate from a political grouping within the parliament, the rules are not as strict."

The Liberals in the parliament for example, are in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, while their pan-European political party, the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, has members from EU and non-EU states.

"It's only the second step that is try to form a faction in the European Parliament, but at some point this too will be possible," Mr Balczo said.

'Another Titanic'

Competing visions of national supremacy have in the past presented a difficult hurdle for forming a far-right group in the parliament.

In the last legislature, the far-right grouping "Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty" lasted only a few months before it broke up over Italian members insulting their Romanian colleagues.

Notably, in the new grouping there is no representation from the Greater Romania Party, Ataka, from Bulgaria's rightist extremists or from the Slovak National Party.

"We will not participate in any alliance with any party that is chauvinist towards ethnic Hungarians," said Mr Balczo, "and the Romanians and the Slovaks are very, very strongly against ethnic Hungarians."

Even the friendly relations between Jobbik and the BNP run up against different national perspectives.

"There are some differences over agriculture for example," Mr Balczo said. "Voting [in the parliament] last Thursday on the budget, we and the Front National voted differently to the BNP, because we have a different position on protecting family farms."

The welcoming of the Walloon Front National also precludes bringing on board Belgium's much more popular Vlaams Belang, which while Belgian, is a Flemish nationalist party that opposes the idea that francophones and Flemings can live together in the same country.

"In all probability, this alliance will go the way of its predecessor and implode within months, and this time they can't even form a faction in the European Parliament. It's another Titanic of a group," Graham Atkinson, the European editor of British-based far-right monitoring magazine, Searchlight, told this website.