Le Pen gathers allies for new far-right EP group
French leader Marine Le Pen of the National Front was in Brussels Wednesday (28 May) to gather allies, but came up short in her bid to form a far-right European Parliament group.
“We have five nationalities already out of the seven that we need so it’s a pretty solid basis for us to form a group,” said Le Pen in Brussels.
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Le Pen said they should get the additional remaining two by July latest and announced the future faction alongside allies from the Netherlands' Freedom party, Austria’s Freedom party, Italy’s Lega Nord, and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang.
A parliament group grants MEPs access to more financial support and speaking time in plenary.
On the back of a 25-percent share of the vote in France's EU election, Le Pen’s National Front jumped from three to 24 seats in the EP.
Her strategy is to force the two largest groups, the centre-right EPP and socialists S&D, to work together. The idea is to demonstrate that the two are no different from each other.
“We are going to force them to stand together, to become allies, and that will be clear, it will make things clear for the electorate,” she said.
Her second goal is to obstruct the European Parliament in a wider effort to repatriate national sovereignty from what she describes as a “technocratic and totalitarian model” of the European Union.
“We are going to do our very best to prevent any progress being made at all in the European Union, we are going to try and block any steps forward being taken by the parliament,” she said.
Her alliance of five parties so far has only 38 MEPs. She is seeking more allies but has ruled out a coalition with Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, Bulgaria’s Attaka, and Greece’s neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.
Instead, the possibilities for the moment include the Swedish Democrats, The Finns party, Poland’s Congress of the New Right and the Bulgaria without censorship coalition.
An EP source said Le Pen’s group impact at the 751-seated plenary would depend on her ability to piece together different majorities “and how much they would go into legislative things.”
One possibility for an alliance against legislation could be Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who has refused to go in to a group with Le Pen.
“We might come together to create a front to oppose the most harmful elements in the European Union,” she said.
She described Farage’s rejection to join her as tactical, noting the Ukip leader is more interested in remaining group leader of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD).
Farage, for his part, is also negotiating new members after two parties in his group, the Danish People’s party and the populist Finns party are set to seek alternatives.
Earlier in the day he met Italian anti-establishment Five Star movement leader and former comedian Beppe Grillo.
The Ukip leader hopes to absorb Grillo’s 17 euro-deputies into EFD.
“If we can come to an agreement, we could have fun causing a lot of trouble for Brussels,” said Farage, in a statement.