Sunday

22nd Jan 2017

Focus

Right-wing MEPs to form new constellations in EU parliament

  • Italy's Lega Nord may leave the EFD to join Le Pen's Front National (Photo: Cau Napoli)

Italy’s anti-immigration Lega Nord is set to splinter from the European Parliament’s right-wing, eurosceptic political group, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD).

The EFD counts Nigel Farage’s Ukip among its group of core members, along with Morten Messerschmidt’s Danish People's party. Both made major gains in Sunday’s elections.

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But the Italian party wants to team up instead with Marine Le Pen’s Front National in the wider hopes of forming a new far-right faction.

"I will see Marine Le Pen on Wednesday in Brussels, we will take stock of these European elections, we will work out a common agenda and a team. Our first battles will be against the euro and immigration," Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini said in an interview with La Repubblica

Lega Nord’s intentions do not come as a surprise.

“They have been telling us since the beginning of this year, they are announcing everywhere, every time they can, that they are going with Le Pen, so we knew they were leaving,” said a source.

The Italians, along with Dutchman Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom party (PVV), Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and, possibly, the Swedish Democrats (SD), are to discuss this week how to turn Le Pen’s European Alliance for Freedom into an official parliament group.

Despite Lega Nord’s possible departure, the EFD expects to pick up new members from the pool of some 60 new anti-EU euro-deputies.

“I think we are going to have a quite a lot of them coming here,” noted the source.

Parliament sources project a number of likely group affiliations.

They note Poland’s Congress of the New Right (KNP) may decide to join the EFD.

However, the group could lose two seats from the Finnish right-wing and populist Finns party. The Danish People's Party is also set to pull its four deputies.

The EFD’s six Nordic deputies may instead join the British Conservative and Polish-dominated group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

Meanwhile, both the EFD and ECR are vying to attract a number of other smaller parties.

Among the candidates are Germany's Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), Greece’s Independent Greeks (ANEL), and Slovakia’s Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLANO).

The neo-Nazis, for their part, are likely to go solo.

Germany is set to send one from the NPD party.

Another three are to arrive from Greece’s Golden Dawn, which got just over nine percent of the vote.

Two of them are former professional soldiers.

At the head of the Golden Dawn list is Eleftherios Synadinos, a retired lieutenant general whose military background includes leading the army's special forces, according to Greek media outlet EnetEnglish.gr.

Another notable name is Georgios Epitideios who came third on the list after Fountoulis Lampros.

Epitideios was reportedly a former director in the department of crisis response at the EU’s military staff, a division inside the EU foreign policy service. He is also said to have spent some time in Nato.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

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