Le Pen fails to create far-right EP faction
Far-right duo Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders have failed to form a group in the European Parliament.
Wilders told Dutch media outlet ANP on Monday (23 June) they were unable to meet the minimum parliament criteria of having members from at least seven different member states.
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“Unfortunately we didn't meet the June 24 deadline to form an official grouping with six other parties in the European parliament,” he said.
Le Pen announced in late May that her National Front party of 24 MEPs would team up with allies from the Netherlands' Freedom party, Austria’s Freedom party, Italy’s Lega Nord, and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang.
The plan was to create a group called the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF) in order to obstruct policy making at the European Parliament in a wider effort to repatriate national sovereignty.
A parliament group means more money and more influence in the EU assembly.
Media reports over the weekend suggested Le Pen was already preparing for a defeat.
On Sunday, the Independent newspaper cited National Front’s secretary general Florian Philippot as saying it “would not really be a disaster” if the EP group project failed.
“Our patriotic mission is to defend France and the French,” he said.
In the end, the far right faction was short of two members.
Poland’s Congress of the New Right (KNP) had earlier been cited as a possible partner.
But views held by KNP leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke are said to be too extreme for the anti-immigrant Wilders.
The Polish 72-year old anti-establishment leader reportedly wants to deprive women the right to vote.
A KNP spokesperson told EUobserver earlier this month Wilders was against their neo-liberal positions.
"We were informed that Mr. Wilders is against us due to his opposition to our free market ideology," noted the spokesperson.
Wilders, for his part, said he would not form a group “at any price” and has not ruled out forming the group at a later date.
"I'm convinced that we can do it later in the year and that we will then have found MEPs from the seven necessary countries," he said.
Wilders in early May floated the idea of possibly forming a faction with Ukip leader and eurosceptic Nigel Farage.
Farage, who managed to form his Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group last week, vowed never to team up with Le Pen, however.
The EFD has 48 euro-deputies from seven member states. One of the EFD MEPs defected from Le Pen’s National Front.