Far-right alliance fails to get EU parliament cash

12.11.09 @ 17:44

  1. By Leigh Phillips

BRUSSELS - The European Alliance of National Movements (AENM), the coalition of far-right parties formed last month in Budapest, has failed in its an attempt to get its hands on European Parliament cash, as the jumble of reactionary rightists did not manage to file the application on time.

  • Jobbik's leaders: Hungarian nationalists cannot stand their counterparts in Slovakia and Romania (Photo: Wikipedia)

The alliance, which includes the UK's BNP, France's Front National and Hungary's Jobbik, says it wants its share of the around €11 million that the parliament hands out every year to pan-European political parties, informally known as ‘europarties'.

This would have amounted to around €400,000 for the group to carry out advertising, research and campaigning atop the money MEPs already receive.

"Conservatives, socialists, Greens and communists all receive European funds. It is normal that we demand the same on behalf of our electors who have expressed their hopes," Front National MEP Bruno Gollnisch told reporters in the European capital announcing the Brussels launch of the group.

While the cluster of far-righters managed to cobble together the group in Budapest on 24 October, as earlier reported by EUobserver, the cut-off for 2010 funding was 1 November and so if the chamber does ultimately recognise the formation, it will still not be able to access any money until 2011.

Conceding that the group had fumbled the deadline, Mr Gollnish said: "The money is not the main purpose. While we want to get our share back, the share that is due the people who voted for us and sympathise with our goals, the real aim here is the formation of a political alliance where we can support each other."

Europarties vs. European Parliament groups

Pan-continental europarties are structurally distinct entities from the political families of MEPs in the Strasbourg chamber, though at the same time remain linked ideologically.

A grouping in the European Parliament requires a certain number of MEPs from seven EU member states; for a europarty, the rules are more relaxed and national MPs and regional representatives may also count towards the seven-country minimum. There is also no minimum number of deputies.

In the AENM's case, the alliance has had to depend very much on tiny rightist groupuscules without MEPs: Belgium's Front National, which has one seat in the country's Chamber of Representatives and one seat in the Senate, and Italy's neo-fascist Fiamma Tricolore and Sweden's National Democrats. The former has a single deputy in the Umbrian regional assembly, while the latter has councillors in just two municipalities south of Stockholm.

But municipal representatives do not count towards the europarty threshold.

Excluding the Swedes, the group only has deputies from five EU member states.

The BNP's Nick Griffin, however, says that he hopes to soon have on board far-right parties from Spain and Portugal - which have no MEPs either - as well as from Ukraine, but this would not count towards the total, as the country is outside the EU.

Nevertheless, he also said that Austria's Freedom Party, which does have substantial support - it won 12.8 percent in the June elections, giving it two MEPs - may soon join.

Whites only

Once the alliance is legally registered, the Bureau of the European Parliament - the chamber's governing body - must rule on whether it meets the europarty regulations, which also demand an observation of "the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law."

"This could present a problem if certain parties are found to continue to refuse membership to certain ethnicities," Federico de Girolamo, a parliament spokesperson, told EUobserver. The BNP was ordered by a London court in October to end its internal whites-only policy.

Mr de Girolamo said however there was still a chance the alliance could eventually access EU funds if they meet all the rules.

"So long as [membership issues] are resolved, then there has to be a really good reason for them to be denied [europarty status]," he continued.

"Democracy means including all opinions. We cannot be seen denying them this just because we don't agree with them."

Hungarian vs Slovak nationalisms

A major block to forming a larger group is the inability of the different far-right parties in the European Parliament and beyond, who often adhere to mutually exclusive national mythologies, to get along.

Hungarian MEP Balczo Zoltan, Jobbik's vice-president, angrily told journalists at the press conference that the alliance will never permit the inclusion of Slovak or Romanian nationalists, as their brand of nationalism was exclusionary of the wrong type of people.

"Millions of ethic Hungarians live [outside] Hungary and the Jobbik Movement for a Better Hungary will never work together with parties that are not patriotic or nationalist, but instead chauvinist. We will never work with the Slovak National Party or the Greater Romania Party. This is a declaration!"

The SNP does not restrict itself to inflammatory rhetoric about Roma, Jews and gays and lesbians, but also Hungarians. Jan Slota, the party's leader, has in the past said: "We will sit in our tanks and destroy Budapest," and: "Hungarians are a cancer in the body of the Slovak nation."

Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, for his part, regularly rails against the alleged anti-Romania conspiracies of ethnic Hungarians.

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