Declaration debacle exposes sticky far-right rift

Declaration debacle exposes sticky far-right rift |

Hopes for stronger cooperation between right-to-far-right political forces in the European Parliament still seem out of reach as the backlash to a declaration signed by rightist and Eurosceptic MEPs from different political families expose continued rifts between the groups.

On Wednesday, the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz’s delegation in the European Parliament, which currently sits unattached after a divorce with the centre-right last year, posted on social media of a joint declaration on cooperation with the far-right and eurosceptic lawmakers from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID) groups.

The declaration, signed by seven lawmakers from the two political families and Fidesz, promises closer cooperation for promoting stricter migration policies and “shifting competences from the EU level back to the member states”, prompted speculations of broader cooperation of the right-to-far-right political forces in the bloc’s co-legislator.

Put together, these parties and groups account for around 150 seats in the European Parliament, making them slightly larger than the 144 MEP-strong Socialist and Democrat groups and second in size only to the centre-right European People’s Party.

However, the ECR Group, whose European political family of the same name is presided over by the new Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, was quick to dismiss rumours of an alliance with the ID group as “nonsense”.

Individual lawmakers from the group also dismissed any broader implications of the declaration.

“I confirm that this is a personal initiative of some MEPs belonging to different political groups. But that hypothesis (merge) that was vague about a year ago had no blowback”, Italian lawmaker, Nicola Procaccini from Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, told EURACTIV.

“It is a personal issue of one ECR member”, Czech MEP Jan Zahradil said.

The declaration, seen by EURACTIV, was signed by two ECR lawmakers, Jorge Buxadé Villalba hailing from the Spanish Vox and Polish MEP Patryk Jaki from Solidarna Polska Zbigniewa Ziobro.

A former ECR official, who spoke to EURACTIV on condition of anonymity, said there is no single reason for the group to join forces with ID and Fidesz party.

“This is a scenario that is feasible only in numbers”, the former official said.

“Even if they join forces, they will never be able to elect either an EU Parliament or a committee president […] it works well with their different groups and budgets”, they added.

“These groups have thorny differences in different matters […] potentially joining forces will only create a permanent crisis management situation”.

The signatories also missed lawmakers from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party sitting in the ECR Group.

The party was previously known for close ties to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party Fidesz before Budapest’s continued economic ties with Moscow, and the anti-sanctions stance caused a rift between the political allies.

The former ECR official also estimated that Poland’s PiS in no way wants a collaboration with, for example, Le Pen before their elections next year.

“It’s in PiS’ interest to preserve the current status quo”, they concluded.

Prior to Meloni’s election as Italy’s prime minister, some voices on the far-right hoped her victory could create momentum for an EU-wide anti-Europe bloc.

“The general political evolution of Italy seems to me obviously very favourable. Especially since we have many friends in ECR. The idea, of course, is to form a large group,” French MEP Jean-Paul Garraud from Le Pen’s Rassemblement national then told EURACTIV.

So far, these hopes seem not to have materialised.

Another MEP familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told EURACTIV there is really nothing new and added: “There are those who have a vision and those who do not. For years, I have preached the centre-right as an alternative to the EPP. But for marriages, you need two, for groups many more”.

They also described Hungarian Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi, seen as one of the driving forces behind the declaration, as “wise”.

Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz has remained increasingly isolated among the pro-transatlantic rightist forces over Budapest’s continued economic ties with Moscow and anti-sanctions stance.

In late January 2022, nine far-right and nationalist European leaders agreed on a “roadmap” for a patriotic Europe during a meeting organised by the far-right Spanish Vox party in Madrid.


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