Extreme-right seeks European unity, again

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Another attempt to establish a pan-European extreme-right party was made in Budapest last weekend (24-25 October) by extremist forces from a variety of European countries, targeting better representation in the European Parliament. EURACTIV Hungary contributed to this article.

On Saturday (24 October) an ‘Alliance of European Nationalist Movements’ was established in Budapest, during the 6th Congress of Jobbik, a Hungarian extreme-right party. Five other extreme-right parties signed a common declaration: France’s Front National, Italy’s Fiamma Tricolore, Sweden’s National Democrats and Belgium’s Walloon National Front. The British National Party (BNP), which did not attend the launch, also supports the new grouping, Jobbik representatives said.

The main objectives of the new group, according to its representatives, are the preservation of indigenous traditional values and the protection of Europe from immigrants, as well as from “religious, political, economic and financial imperialism”.

In the nine-point declaration, extreme-right parties emphasised that for them, Euroscepticism does not necessarily mean the rejection of the EU. However, they state that they cannot accept the Lisbon Treaty, because it aims to establish a “United States of Europe”.

A more practical reason to establish such a political union is to achieve better representation of extreme-right parties in the European Parliament, as well as to obtain EU funds for the new political family. These advantages, as well as access to EU financing, become possible once a Parliament political group has a minimum of 25 MEPs from seven different member states.

According to the founders of the new alliance, this recognition will help them to reduce the isolation of extreme-right parties and allow them to participate together in the next elections.

Gábor Vona, president of Jobbik, described the Budapest gathering as proof that his party was “not in a marginal position at all”. He expressed hope that “thanks to this relationship, gossip regarding the isolation of Jobbik will be consigned to the history books”.

The BNP is also expected to join the movement, as well as Austria’s FPÖ and other Spanish and Portuguese extreme-right parties with which Jobbik is negotiating.

However, it has already been confirmed that Romanian, Bulgarian and Slovakian extreme-right parties will play no part in the movement, with Jobbik MEP Zoltán Balczó saying: “We will not participate in any alliance with any party that is chauvinist towards ethnic Hungarians.”

Indeed, relations between nationalists in Hungary on the one hand and Romania and Slovakia on the other are antagonistic. As for Bulgarian party Ataka, analysts are seeing an evolution of the party, which they say is gradually abandoning extremism and getting closer to the centre-right party in power, GERB.

No challenge to conservatives

Asked if the new group would be a competitor of the newly-formed group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) as an anti-federalist force, Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy, spokesperson for Hungarian ECR MEP Lajos Bokros, saw no common ground between the two political projects.

“The group of European Conservatives and Reformists is a value-based, open, democratic and conservative group. The Alliance of European Nationalist Movements is no such formation. Therefore we see no coherence between the two groups, nor will there be any in the future,” he told EURACTIV Hungary. 

Extreme-right coalitions in the European Parliament have so far been short-lived. The most 'successful' was the so-called 'Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty' (ITS) group. Created in January 2007 and chaired by French MEP Bruno Gollnisch (Front National), ITS ceased to exist on 14 November 2007, after members from the Greater Romania Party withdrew from the group. The move followed remarks made by Italian MEP Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, which the Romanians found insulting (EURACTIV 15/11/07).

A few weeks before this summer's European Parliament elections, Gollnisch claimed he could resurrect the group, saying he was in regular contact with the British National Party (BNP), Bulgarian party Ataka (Attack) and the Austria's FPÖ (Freedom Party) (EURACTIV 17/03/09).

During the European Parliament elections, extreme-right party Jobbik won 14.7% of the vote in Hungary, giving it three seats out of 22. Until now, Jobbik has not been part of any political grouping in the Parliament.

In other EU countries, only the France's Front National, the British National Party and Austria's FPÖ have representatives in the European Parliament. Other extreme-right parties won less than 1% of the vote during the elections (see EURACTIV LinksDossier).

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