The new bloc would be called the European Alliance for People and Nations and would challenge the three centrist parties that have dominated the EU Parliament for more than 40 years.
After months of talking about it, a new group of far-right parties are creating alliances across Europe to make their presence felt in the upcoming European Union (EU) parliamentary elections.
The new grouping would be called the European Alliance for People and Nations (EAPN). Under EU rules at least 25 MEPs are needed from seven different countries to create a political grouping.
Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, from Italy’s Northern League party, is working hard with his coalition counterpart from the Five Star Movement Luigi Di Maio to forge pan-European links with other like-minded parties.
Both the Northern League and the Five Star Movement have upended the political landscape in Italy. Their meteoric rise and capture of the state have resulted in the parties commanding more than 64 percent of the Italian electorate. Both parties are expected to make significant headway in their first EU parliamentary elections.
The European Union parliament has 751 seats and has been dominated by a coalition between the centre-right European People's Party, the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, and the centre-liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group.
The alliance, which has 471 seats, has ruled the EU parliament for more than 40 years and for the first time is set to lose its majority. Under recently released projections, the two large groups, European People's Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, will win 45 percent, down from 53 percent.
The drop reflects disillusionment with established parties and the rise of nationalist parties willing to take advantage of the current political and economic turmoil engulfing Europe.
Pan-European nationalist right
Salvini will head to Hungary this May to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban and discuss cooperation on the forthcoming EU parliamentary elections.
Earlier this year Orban was threatened by the European People’s Party, the centre-right Christian Democratic coalition grouping in the EU parliament, for his attacks on the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Ongoing attempts to kick Orban out the primary EU parliamentary grouping for his harsh views on immigration and perceived failings on democratic norms may ultimately result in him siding with the new coalition, who share his world view.
And Orban could share a platform with others beyond Italy.
In February of this year, representatives from parties in Finland, Poland, Croatia and Greece met in Italy to establish the new parliamentary grouping.
Since then the idea has garnered further support from the Alternative for Germany, the largest opposition party in the Bundestag, and Austria's Freedom Party, which is in a coalition government with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party.
The Danish People's Party has also joined other nationalist and nativist parties such as Finland's Finns Party and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
The bloc is avoiding using terms that suggest they are far right. Di Maio has said, “this is not a far-right group”, adding, “we do not believe in the division into left and right”.
Most recently this weekend, Salvini tweeted a message of support to the latest member of the grouping, Marine Le Pen, the far-right French leader.
"Heartfelt thanks to National Rally leader Marine Le Pen and our historic friends and allies of the National Rally for joining the Milan manifesto ‘Towards a Europe of Common Sense’.”
Grazie di cuore a Marine Le Pen e ai nostri storici amici e alleati di @RNational_off per l’adesione al manifesto di Milano “Verso l’Europa del Buonsenso!”! Merci @MLP_officiel! 🇮🇹🇫🇷— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) April 19, 2019
Il tempo di burocrati, banchieri, buonisti e barconi è FINITO!
Il 26 maggio si CAMBIA tutto! https://t.co/WU6J7eo1vC
Le Pen recently announced that her party would abandon the idea of leaving the EU in favour of ‘reforming’ it from the inside. What this means in practice given the ideology of the parties is clear from the national policies of the parties.
As it stands, the far-right parties remain split between three different blocs in the current EU parliament. By bringing together all the disparate groups, they will hope to have a more significant impact on the parliament.
Salvini has called the EU project a ‘nightmare’ run by an out of touch elite. Many of the parties joining the European Alliance for People and Nations have portrayed themselves as resurgent anti-establishment parties.
The new coalition will campaign on an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam nationalist rhetoric, in contrast to the politically correct politicians unwilling to diagnose or acknowledge what they perceive as failed multicultural policies and a loss of national identity.
The parties are also standing on a platform of less EU integration, unwilling to buy into the grandiose vision of a United States of Europe as some, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have suggested in the past.
The success of this new coalition will depend on whether they can adequately integrate and speak with one voice at a European-wide level. With the wind in their sails, the new grouping could challenge Brussels either into taking more nationalist and nativist positions, or they could stall decision-making. Either way, the new alliance seems here to stay.