25th Mar 2019

Eurosceptics kick out Italian Lega Nord party

The eurosceptic group in the European Parliament has kicked out four members of the Italian Lega Nord, while seven Polish deputies also moved from the group and joined the non-attached MEPs.

The official announcement of the changes was made on Thursday (16 March) in the Strasbourg plenary.

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The co-leader of the Independence / Democracy group (IND/DEM) Nigel Farrage said the majority of its members could no longer work together with the Italian party, despite the effort "to make some arrangements so as not to harm its pre-election position in Italy."

The relations in the group have deteriorated after a controversial gesture by an Italian minister Roberto Calderoli from the Lega Nord who wore a T-shirt depicting one of the Danish Muslim cartoons.

The group's bureau on Wednesday night (15 March) decided to re-constitute the group so as to avoid a vote on expelling the Italian members, as they had previously failed to gather the backing of two thirds of the group's members needed to kick them out.

"I cannot say it was a good move. It was a necessary move," commented the Danish co-leader Jens-Peter Bonde.

"There was no way back for us after the Italian minister's gesture, we could no longer defend this party to remain in our group," he said.

But Lega Nord's Franceso Enrico Speroni complained of "irregularities in the procedure" and urged the parliament's officials to check whether it was legitimate.

Poles lost on the way

As a result of the move, seven deputies from the League of Polish families also left the eurosceptic group, the smallest in the European Parliament.

They were supposed to sign a letter informing the parliament's president about joining the re-structured group, but failed to do so by the set deadline.

While the IND/DEM group's leaders commented they were surprised by the Polish MEPs' move and still expected they might join the faction, some insiders hint the Poles might be preparing to set up a new political group.

The European Parliament's rules stipulate that a minimum of 19 MEPs is needed to establish a new group, with at least 5 member states represented.

The IND/DEM group without the Polish members has 22 deputies.

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