While the shock of the rise of far right political forces in numerous EU countries hasn’t passed yet, Belgian youth organizations – supported by a wide range of radical left parties and trade unions – decided to take the matter in their own hands. Coming from across the country, they organized a rally to protest against the arrival of Marine Le Pen at the European parliament on 28 May.
To the 2,000 (mostly French speaking) young demonstrators, Marine Le Pen embodies at best the extreme right populism. By using a “simplistic, nostalgic discourse and calling for a national withdrawn”, as MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat (Front de Gauche, GUE/NGL) put it in the press release following her reelection, the National Front leader managed to win 25% of the European votes in France.
While Le Pen was meeting far-right leaders in an attempt to create a European parliamentary group, the outrage outside among the demonstrators was noticeable. They literally took the European parliament, preventing anybody to get in or out for a few moments. Even harder for them to swallow, and for some the very cause of their presence at the demonstration, was the fact that 30% of the French youth (below the age of 35) that did vote chose the extreme right party1.
Contrary to the massive demonstrations that shook up France in 2002 when Le Pen father reached the second round of the presidential election, the slogans and the signs went beyond mere moral indignation and clearly pointed fingers at austeritarian measures and youth unemployment in Europe.