Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Austrian far-right in fresh push for EU respectability

Buoyed by their recent success in the polls, the Austrian and French far right have made a fresh push for respectability in the European Parliament. A blurring of the 'softer' far right with eurosceptic parties may be in the offing.

Austria's Freedom Party in particular called on the eurosceptic alliance in the chamber, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy grouping led by Britain's Ukip and Italy's Northern League, to let their two MEPs join.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Heinz-Christian Strache in campaigning mode (Photo: _dChris)

FPO Party leader and MEP Heinz-Christian Strache alongside French Front National chief Marine Le Pen in the parliament in Strasbourg announced deeper co-operation between their two far-right parties at a Wednesday press conference.

Speaking to reporters, the Austrian also said that he wanted his deputies in the EFD but was being blocked by two MEPs in the grouping reluctant to embrace the party.

The two party leaders were hoping to put themselves across as serious statesman and distance themselves from the impression of far-right politicians as consorting with skinheaded and heavily tattooed bully boys.

According to a March poll in Le Parisien, Le Pen, who has something of a softer image from her father whom she succeeded as leader in January, would gain an unprecedented first-round victory if a presidential election were held today.

Meanwhile, a May survey found that were an election to happen now, the FPO would top the polls, with 29 percent of votes to the second-placed Social Democrat's 28 percent. A second far-right party, the Alliance for Austria (BZO) would be awarded an additional 13 percent, putting far-right politics by far the most popular option in the land.

Strache, whose MEPs are classed as 'non-inscrit', the parliamentary term for unattached deputies but something of a short-hand for extremists as most of the non-inscrit politicians come from far-right parties, wants to leave this reputation behind.

He declared he has no interest in joining with the Greater Romania party, the UK's British National Party (BNP) or Bulgaria's Ataka, three groups that in the demi-monde of the far-right are seen as the extremists.

Asked whether Le Pen is looking to form a parliamentary fraction with the FPO, she held back from a full endorsement, saying "Deeper relations and work on different fronts ... does not necessarily revolve around the European Parliament."

In an interview with Dutch radio on 1 June, Le Pen also sought to distance herself from Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders, saying he reads the Koran literally.

Strache this week also met with Belgium's Flemish nationalists of the Vlaams Belang and the Northern League to press his case.

According to Francesco Speroni, Northern League deputy and co-chair of the EFD, his party is in favour of the FPO joining, but MEPs from Greece's Laos and Denmark's People's Party are opposed.

The FPO has been campaigning for months to kick Greece out of the eurozone.

Ukip for its part said that they have no contact with Strache's party and have no comment on their joining.

"Everybody is free to desire to be a member of the EFD," EFD spokesman Herman Kelly, a member of Ukip, told EUobserver. "But we have no control over that. The EFD has had no contact with Strache. Ukip has had no contact with Strache. Why would we have an opinion about someone we have never met with?"

In the wake of the economic crisis, both euroscepticism and the far right have been two of the only political forces to increase their support in polls. While the centre-right has benefited electorally at the expense of the centre-left, it has been largely on the back of record abstention.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  2. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  3. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  4. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  5. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  6. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  7. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  8. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us