Nationalists Form Alliance for EU Parliament Elections

AfD leader Jörg Meuthen at AfD Baden-Württemberg party convention in 2015 [Wikimedia Commons].

AfD leader Jörg Meuthen at AfD Baden-Württemberg party convention in 2015 [Wikimedia Commons].

In light of next month’s European Parliamentary elections, four major European nationalist parties plan to join forces in an attempt to expand their influence over the EU. They announced the move during a news conference in Milan on April 8, the BBC reported.

The alliance, comprised of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League party, Jörg Meuthen’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Finland’s conservative Finns party, and Anders Vistisen’s Danish People’s Party, is intended to fly under the banner “European Alliance for People and Nations,” the Guardian reported.

Parties are scrambling to gain domestic national support before the European Parliament elections, which will be held between May 23 and 26.

Though competing in different countries, the four nationalist parties have announced their intentions to form a unified parliamentary group in an effort to challenge the power of the bloc’s centrist parties. According to Radio France Internationale, the group is looking to occupy 70 to 80 seats of the 751-member council, thus establishing a sizable force in the body. While a legitimate group has to consist of at least 25 Members of the European Parliament from a minimum of seven EU countries, according to parliamentary rules, Meuthen has expressed his confidence that at least 10 parties will take part in the venture.

Eurosceptics are currently among the smallest groups in the European Parliament, numbering a few dozen members. Despite this, the Guardian reports, far-right groups’ influence has been gradually increasing over the past few years, with populist power in Hungary and Poland, as well as the powerful influence of groups such as Salvini’s League, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, and Heinz-Christian Strache’s Freedom Party in Austria, showing dramatic gains in far-right political power.

Salvini has expressed strong hope for a European government free from centralized control. During the news conference, he outlined his vision, noting that, “The European dream is being threatened by the bureaucrats and bankers governing Europe. They have been governing Europe for too long; it should really be a government of people,” the Irish Times reported.

According to the BBC, while there are deep-rooted ideological differences between the parties on diplomatic and economic matters, such as the divergent views that Salvini and the Finns party hold about Russian President Vladimir Putin, the group has voiced its commitment to advocate for the goals they hold in common. Salvini argues that while the various movements have differences, they overlap strongly on questions of tradition and identity.

While the EU has delayed the Brexit deadline to October 31, the bloc has already established plans for 27 of the U.K.’s 73 seats to be redistributed among the contending groups, adding extra incentive to those hoping for a larger foothold in the Parliament. The European political climate seems to be advancing towards isolation and Euroscepticism, and a significant victory for the nationalist cohort could prove an ideological shift for the future of EU policy-making.