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19th Aug 2018

Dutch far-right MEP in hot water after voting for Le Pen

  • Le Pen: 'I am totally innocent in this affair' (Photo: European Parliament)

Marcel de Graaff, co-chair of the far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group in the European Parliament, faces a possible sanction or fine after voting on behalf of the other co-chair of his group, Marine Le Pen. He is being accused of voting fraud.

On Thursday (29 October), Le Pen, leader of the French Front National, told French media that "it is true" that her Dutch colleague De Graaff had voted with her voting card, "without my permission".

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  • De Graaff could receive a reprimand, a fine, or a suspension. (Photo: European Parliament)

The possible voting fraud occurred on Wednesday (28 October) at a plenary voting session in Strasbourg. Members of the European Parliament vote either by show of hands, or electronically with a personal card.

MEPs have their own seats and several leave their voting cards behind. "I always leave my card there", said Le Pen.

At 14:14, the EP's official cameras showed Le Pen leaving the plenary room. But voting records indicate that after that time, votes were carried out in her name.

During the debate, an MEP from the centre-right EPP group took the floor to raise her suspicions to the chair of the meeting.

"I'm just noticing that Mrs Le Pen is not here, and I would like you to kindly check what is happening with her vote, and her neighbour", said Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt.

Later that day, EPP leader Manfred Weber, said his group had asked Parliament president Martin Schulz to launch an investigation into the "suspicion of fraud" by Le Pen.

The EPP, the largest political group in the parliament and one of the most pro-European, and the eurosceptic far-right ENF, the smallest group, often trade blows with each other.

The ENF was formed shortly before the summer, and is made up of 39 members: 21 from Front National, four from Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom, four Austrians, one Belgian, five Italians, two Polish, one Romanian, and one Briton.

Le Pen and De Graaff are co-chairs of the party, but while FN's leader Le Pen is considered a potential presidential candidate in France, Marcel de Graaff is an unknown political figure in the Netherlands, always in the shadow of party leader Wilders.

While Le Pen said De Graaff's intentions were out of "courtesy" and "chivalry", she clearly is not prepared to take the fall for him.

"I am totally innocent in this affair", she told French press, adding that it was "clumsy" of De Graaff.

Neither De Graaff nor Wilders have publicly responded to the affair.

De Graaff could receive a reprimand, a fine, or a suspension.

Earlier this week, two MEPs were suspended from the Parliament for ten days, for making Nazi salutes.

One of them, Italian MEP Gianluca Buonanno, is a member of the ENF group, the other, Polish Janusz Korwin-Mikke, has no group affiliation.

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