Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who also leads the far-right League party, said on Tuesday (11 September) he wants the new European Commission to be led by conservatives and populists.
“The aim is to cancel the duopoly between the socialists and Christian democrats,” Salvini told reporters after taping a talk show in Rome. A new Commission will be seated after the European Parliament elections next May.
When asked if he wanted populists to ally with the European Popular Party to back the new Commission, he replied: “Yes, that’s the goal.”
The EPP party, led by Manfred Weber, is accused of being too open to possible coalitions with the far right.
A far right coalition is already in the making ahead of the May 2019 European elections, and two of its frontmen are Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Salvini himself. Orbán is officially still in the EPP, but is close to either being expelled, or leaving by his own volition.
Several EU countries are governed by coalitions between the centre-right and the far right. This is the case of Bulgaria, where the centre right GERB party of Prime Minister Borissov is in government with a nationalist alliance, comprising the far right Ataka party of Volen Siderov. In Austria, the centre right ÖVP of Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz is in coalition with the far right FPÖ of Heinz-Christian Strache, who is his Deputy Prime Minister. In Belgium, the government of Charles Michel (himself from the ALDE-affiliated MR party) is in a liberal-centre right coalition comprising the New Flemish Alliance N-VA, a regionalist and separatist movement. In Finland, the Prime Minister Juha Sipilä from the Centre Party (ALDE-affiliated) governs a centre right coalition with the Finns Party, a populist and nationalist force.
The alternative to centre right – far right coalitions is the grand coalition, best illustrated in Germany. The biggest downside is that far right and anti-system forces left outside benefit from positioning themselves as the only opposition to such administrations.