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11th Dec 2016

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EP voting behaviour shows divisions in far-right camp

  • Controversial MEPs: Marine Le Pen and her father, the founder of the National Front (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The voting record of seven far-right and anti-EU parties represented in the outgoing European Parliament shows larger divisions than among centrist parties who grouped together, according to a study published Tuesday (20 May) by VoteWatch.

Seven parties were included in the study, three of which are currently in a parliamentary group: the British Independence Party (Ukip), Italy's Lega Nord and Slovakia's SNS.

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VoteWatch also looked at the voting record of France's National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, the Dutch PVV party led by Geert Wilders, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) and the Belgian Vlaams Belang, all of which are currently not affiliated with any parliamentary group.

"It was interesting to see that for the PVV, UKIP would be a better match than Front National, as PVV and UKIP voted together in 67 percent of cases," Elisa Irlandese from VoteWatch told this website.

Despite the idea of a joint campaign ahead of EU elections, the parties of Le Pen and Wilders vote differently to one another 49 percent of the time.

On average, the seven parties have a matching record in 51 percent of all the votes they cast. The best match is between the Front National and Austria's Freedom Party, which agreed 86 percent of the time. On civil liberties, justice and home affairs, the two parties vote similarly 92 percent of the time.

When it comes to internal market issues, the best match is again between the French and the Austrian far-right (89 percent), while at the other end Ukip and its Slovak fellow group member, SNS, only agreed in 12 percent of cases. On average, the match among all seven parties was of 44 percent in the internal market and consumer protection policy area.

By comparison, group discipline among other European Parliament parties is much higher: in the centre-right EPP group the French UMP and the German CDU have a matching vote record of 95 percent; in the centre-left S&D group, British Labour and the French Socialists voted the same way in 89 percent of cases. Different parties in the Green, Liberal and Conservative groups also have a match rate of over 80 percent.

The divergent voting patterns among the far-right parties – expected to score well and to form least one group in the new Parliament – are an indication of the potential for disagreement.

Back in 2007, the group "Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty" dissolved in less than a year after Italian MEP Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Italy's fascist dictator, fell out with the Romanian far-right delegation. Vlaams Belang and the National Front were also part of the group at the time.

In order to form a group, a minimum of 25 MEPs from seven different countries are required. Groups receive more funding and have the right to chair or co-chair parliamentary committees.

According to latest estimates, Ukip alone is expected to win 24 seats, with a total of 135 seats projected for the far right.

PollWatch expects two groups to form. It expects the EFD to carry on with Ukip and to absorb the Italian 5 Star Movement, while the National Front, Dutch PVV, Austrian FPOe, Slovak SNS, Belgian Vlaams Belang and Italian Lega Nord are expected to form a separate group.

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