Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

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.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.

EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Germany and Belgium have put forward a proposal for a "peer review" of EU countries' legal systems as member states and EU institutions struggle with disciplining member states that break EU rules.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us