Friday

14th May 2021

Nordic populist parties divided on which EP group to join

  • The Finns' Timo Soini would be keen on a political alliance with the British Conservatives or UKip (Photo: Mikael Brunila)

Right-wing populist parties from the Nordic countries are set to take different political paths after the European elections in May.

While the Sweden Democrats are looking towards the likely coalition between France’s National Front and the Dutch Freedom Party, the Danish People’s Party and The Finns party are seeking their political alliances elsewhere.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Our choice is between the EFD [Europe of Freedom and Democracy] and the ECR [European Conservatives and Reformists]," Timo Soini, chair of The Finns party, told EUobserver.

Both groups are dominated by British eurosceptics. The EFD is home to prominent eurosceptic Nigel Farage and his UKip party, while the Conservative party of Prime Minister David Cameron forms the main part of the ECR.

Soini's comment leaves little room for speculation and puts paid to the political aspirations of the party's radical faction.

Olli Immonen, MP and chairman of Suomen Sisu, a group with strong ties to Finnish neo-fascism, had just a few days earlier expressed a desire to see The Finns party in a much wider coalition.

"I wish that at least The Finns party, the French National Front, the Austrian and Dutch Freedom parties, the Danish People's Party and maybe Ukip would be in the same group," he said.

It was a show of support for attempts by the National Front's Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom party to create a common eurosceptic force, including many of the most prominent islamophobic parties on the continent.

So far this initiative seems to have fractured rather than united the European far-right.

"I cannot see myself in any constellation with this party," Morten Messerschmidt, MEP for the Danish People's Party, said last week, referring to the National Front.

The Danish People's Party and The Finns party are both currently in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group.

This puts the parties in a very different place to the Sweden Democrats which have on several occasions in the past year mentioned the possibility of working with the National Front.

"I don't know how enthusiastic we are about it, but to have any influence in the European parliament we have to be part of a group," Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson said in March.

Under the parliament's rules at least 25 MEPs from seven member states are needed to establish a political group.

Akesson, whose party is expected to win its first seats in the European parliament in May, later retracted his comment, saying the party had "yet to make a choice".

But with some other parties wary of hooking up with the Sweden Democrats, the choice might not be Akesson's to make.

In March Ukip’s Nigel Farage told the Swedish Daily Svenska Dagbladet that in relation to the Sweden Democrats: "My colleagues have some reservations about their youth league and some of their contacts around Europe."

This probably means that Akesson's party might have to choose between isolation and the ranks of Le Pen and Wilders.

But there is still one wild card on the table when it comes to European far-right coalitions: Germany's anti-euro AfD. The party was only founded last year but is expected to win several seats in the EU assembly come May.

The AfD is currently deliberating on whether to court UKip or the British Conservative Party – thus putting it out of play, for now, in the game of far-right coalition-making.

Much ado about Greece in Finnish EU elections

In Finland the European elections will be about Greece, at least if Timo Soini, chair of the radical right-wing populist party The Finns, previously known as the True Finns, gets his way.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

Analysis

How MEPs will quiz the next commissioners

The EU parliament will organise public hearings to assess the future commissioners' suitability for their job and their knowledge about the portfolio they had assigned, before the new EU commission takes office on 1 November.

Interview

EP must be tougher on nominees, MEP says

European commissioners ought to be forced to sell shares in firms that they will one day regulate, a French MEP at the coalface of an EU vetting process has said.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us