A few weeks before the European Parliament (EP) elections a new alliance of right-wing populists is taking shape. Italy’s Vice-Premier, Minister of the Interior, and head of the Lega, Matteo Salvini, introduced the EP group European Alliance of Peoples and Nations.
published at the website of Sozialismus.de (full version);
“We want to become the strongest group in the European Parliament”, Salvini announced self-confidently in Milan.
Ten movements and parties – among them the AfD (Alternative for Germany) and the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party) – want to form an electoral alliance, according to Salvini. Talks are underway both with the Fidesz Party of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Spain’s Vox Party, which is now in the Andalusian regional parliament since December’s regional elections. Salvini is envisioning the core of a major European family. His goal is to win the EU elections and change Europe’s rules. We are moving “towards a Europe of reason”, as he puts it. “We are working for a new European dream. For many families and citizens, the EU has become a nightmare. We are working for employment, family policy, security, environmental protection, and a future for the youth. If the EU is based only on finance, bureaucracy, and on purely economic thinking it has no future.”
Protecting the outer borders, the battle against people-smuggling and terrorism, and respect for national identities are further concerns of the new Alliance. “We are neither nostalgics nor extremists. The only nostalgics nowadays are in government in Brussels. We look towards the future. The old debate about right and left, fascists and communists, hold no interest for the 500 million citizens of Europe. We leave these debates to the historians”, the Lega leader emphasises.
Salvini denies that he wants to run as the lead candidate of the right-wing populist alliance for the post of President of the EU Commission. “I harbour no personal ambitions. We are working on a plan for Europe in the next fifty years, and it is an honour that this project is starting from Italy”. In point of fact it was last autumn that he put himself into play as a possible lead candidate. AfD co-chair and co-founder Jörg Meuthen thought Salvini would be a “perfect candidate” for the post of EU Commission President. “But I believe that he wants to continue his superb work in Italy.” […]
The new far-right alliance for the European elections will run without a common electoral campaign. “We are not going into the European elections with a common programme; the project is still in the process of evolving. Everyone is running their own national campaign and trying to get as many votes as possible”, Meuthen told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. There is consensus especially on the question of immigration; on this everyone is quite categorical. Meuthen said that Europe must become a “fortress” and then proceeded to laud Salvini who had shown “in exemplary fashion” in Italy that it is possible to stop immigration. However, on economic issues there is less agreement. There is notable divergence between the AfD and the populist Rome government on the question of state finances.
Already in the summer of 2018 Salvini had announced a Europe-wide “League of Leagues”, which would progress to become the strongest force in the European Parliament. He referred to this goal again at the beginning of April when he rounded up fellow travellers from Germany’s AfD, the Finns Party, the Danish People’s Party, and others in Milan. But the plan remains unrealistic. It is true that Salvini can hope for a growth of the EAPN group, which is in danger of dissolving because Britain’s nationalists are in a state of suspense and because the Five-Star Movement wants to get out of the right-wing nationalist orbit. And Salvini’s efforts to forge an alliance with Poland’s PiS and indeed with Orbán have still not gotten off the ground. The PiS is more likely to try and continue to work with Britain’s Tories or ally with parties from Eastern Europe, which, although they certainly do not want to be told off by Brussels, do want to stay in an open single market and receive Cohesion Funds. That would mean that the future will see a parliamentary group with moderate EU sceptics and a group with more radical ones.
Even if the regrouping of the modern right in the European Parliament succeeds, the right-wing EU critics are more likely not to become the biggest group – and they will have to deal with internal differences. In 2007 the right-wing alliance Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty quickly collapsed because the Greater Romania Party left the group in protest after an Italian MEP made derogatory remarks about Romanian immigrants. There are still contradictions today: While the FPÖ wants to limit family allowances for immigrants, the Eastern Europeans defend themselves against the degrading of their electorate as second-class EU citizens. While Salvini calls for solidarity in refugee policy Orbán is blocking relief for inhabitants of the Mediterranean. For the PiS Russia is a bogeyman, but Le Pen, Salvini, and Orbán are flirting with the Russian autocrat, Vladimir Putin. And Nordic EU critics have serious reservations about the adventurous financial policy of the Italian right.
Since national interests diverge right-wing nationalists tend to fade into espousing abstract goals without concretisation – for the dismantling of the EU and the strengthening of the nation-states.
by: editors of Sozialismus.de
translation: Eric Canepa;