The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament accused the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Renew group of contributing to the normalisation of the extreme right and links with Russia.
Commenting in particular on the participation in governments in Italy and Sweden, they asked groups affiliated with EPP and Renew not to join far-right coalitions as they undermine EU values and have links to Russia.
“The problem is not that they are ultra-conservative or Eurosceptics. That’s part of the political pluralism. The problem is that far-right populism undermines institutions. They use democracy to weaken freedoms and rights,” said S&D president Iratxe Garcia Perez during a debate on Wednesday.
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Silvio Berlusconi has once again caused turmoil in Italian politics after it was revealed that he exchanged “sweet” letters with his long-time “true” friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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The S&D Group stated in a press release that they believe any group cooperating with the far right is “guilty of normalising extremist views in society and guilty of undermining the European Union and its hard-fought values.”
They also warned about the risks of the far-right getting power within the EU, not just at. the national level.
“They are the friends of Putin, who violates human rights and promotes antisystem movements in Europe,” the S&D chief said, adding, “I call on EPP and Renew to go back to this consensus to keep working for a Union of peace and democracy.”
During the election campaign, EPP President Manfred Weber invited Italians to vote for Forza Italia, guaranteeing its pro-European orientation.
On Tuesday (18 October), he also expressed his congratulations to new Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson during a press briefing.
Meanwhile, it was revealed on Tuesday that Silvio Berlusconi had restored his ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, even exchanging “sweet letters” and bottles of alcohol. The recordings of his admissions, which he claims refer to another time in the past, come amid complex negotiations on ministries and power in the new government of likely Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni.
Gaby Bischoff, S&D Group vice-president, added the debate is about bringing EPP and Renew to reason and putting an end to their cooperation with “extremist, fascist, and populists’ parties.”
She too, drew attention to Weber’s support of Berlusconi’s party and called it “the support of a neo-fascist government of Putin sympathisers” and said there are no “good extremists and bad extremists unlike what Manfred Weber insinuates in recent statements.”
EPP Vice-President Paulo Rangel told the press on Wednesday that he considers Berlusconi’s quotes as personal, and he said, “we have absolute trust in Antonio Tajani” as a defender of EU values.
Italian League party MEP and Identity and Democracy group President Marco Zanni told journalists on Wednesday that he is confident “frictions between Meloni and Berlusconi can be solved and this government, which the League Party sustains, can start its mandate”.
Meanwhile, Perez and S&D have been criticised by EPP for not taking a firmer stance on the Malta Labour Party following the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia under their watch and a string of high-level corruption and rule of law issues.
However, in a vote in European Parliament on Thursday, S&D are expected to vote in favour of a 23-point resolution calling out Malta for its failures.
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[Edited by Alice Taylor]