Towards a European far right?

Marine Le Pen, leader of the French "Front National", a far-right anti-European party. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Antoine Bayet)

Marine Le Pen, leader of the French “Front National”, a far-right anti-European party. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Antoine Bayet)

Some weeks ago, Marion Maréchal Le Pen went to Antwerp (Belgium) to meet the Vlaams Belang’s main leaders. More than a simple visit, the main goal of this meeting was to create links between the Flemish extremist and nationalist party and the French Front National ahead of the European elections due to take place in May 2014. 

It is with the same objective that Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), received Marine Le Pen on November 13th in The Hague to form an alliance bringing together the main far-right and/or nationalist parties ahead of the European elections. An alliance that extends until now to the Vlaams Belang and the Austrian FPÖ (the party of late Jörg Haider).

Marine Le Pen has understood the European Parliament can be an ideal forum to better criticise the European Union and the European integration she abhors like her friends of the Vlaams Belang or the PVV. However, this requires a present and united far-right and also a parliamentary group in the hemicycle.

Currently , creating a political group in the EP requires the participation of at least twenty-five MEPs from at least seven Member States. Marine Le Pen and her friends may well meet these conditions if she manages to find coalition partners, which is why she is currently touring Europe.

However, such a task is harder than expected. Indeed, while these far-right and/or nationalist movements have the common goal of dismantling the EU and turn it into a loose confederation of European Nations, they nevertheless continue to disagree on many points. Thus, while the PVV and FN try to ally, it is not so much the case of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) whose leader, Nigel Farage, refuses to be identified with the far-right. Moreover, although Geert Wilders has received Marine Le Pen with pomp, some in his party do not see with a good eye this alliance between the two parties because of the poor image and reputation of the French National Front.

It is too soon to know whether Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders (who needs to rebound, politically speaking, since his huge defeat after the Dutch legislative elections) will succeed in creating a political group in the European parliament insofar as such an objective is going to depend on the results obtained by any member of the coalition at the moment of the election.

Nevertheless, the emergence of a European far-right is finally not so bad news for the European integration and the EU political space insofar as it should force the other traditional European parties to “europeanise” themselves and get involved in the coming debates. Indeed, the Party of European Socialists, the European People’s Party, the European Greens, the European Democratic Party or the Left European Party are still considered as conglomerates of national parties only sharing common values and not a deep and clear political strategy. Maintaining the status quo would be risky ahead of the next EU campaign, and some important progress was done by parties such as the PES or the EPP regarding the election of the President of the European Commission, for instance. The probable creation of a far-right political group (maybe a first step to the creation of a far-right parties’ confederation) is paradoxically an opportunity for the European integration and its more than necessary politicisation.

Gilles Johnson

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