European nationalists form alliance for elections

Finns Party member Olli Kotro, spokesman for Alternative for Germany (AfD) Jörg Meuthen, Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Danish People's Party politician Anders Primdahl Vistisen unite Image copyright AFP Image caption Nationalist leaders (L-R): Olli Kotro (Finns), Jörg Meuthen (AfD), Matteo Salvini (League) and Anders Vistisen (DPP)

European nationalist parties have announced an alliance, with the aim of changing the balance of power in the European Union.

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party announced the venture on Monday at a news conference in Milan.

He was joined by Germany’s far-right AfD, the Finns Party and the Danish People’s Party – fellow nationalists.

They are campaigning in the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May.

Competing in different countries, they plan to form a parliamentary group – the European Alliance for People and Nations – to challenge the power of centrist parties.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) chairman Jörg Meuthen said at least 10 parties would take part.

“We want to reform the European Union and the European Parliament, without destroying them,” he said. “We want to bring radical change.”

Under parliament rules, a group has to consist of at least 25 MEPs from a minimum of seven EU countries. The EU has 28 member states.

Image Copyright @MEPvistisen @MEPvistisen


Twitter post by @MEPvistisen: Together we will fight for a safer Europe with well-protected external borders, less immigration and a stronger cooperation to tackle terrorism and islamisation #Europadelbuonsenso (2/2) Image Copyright @MEPvistisen @MEPvistisen

The AfD is Germany’s main opposition party and has drawn much controversy. UK politician Jacob Rees-Mogg was recently forced to defend a tweet linking to a speech by one of it members.

Quizzed about associating with the far-right party, Mr Salvini said: “We are not interested in local controversies”.

Speaking under a banner reading “a common sense Europe! Peoples rise up”, Mr Salvini said the alliance hopes to become the largest group in the European Parliament, and aims to preserve Europe’s external borders, history and culture.

Currently, nationalist and Eurosceptic groups are among the smallest in the European Parliament, numbering several dozen members.

But support has grown for nationalist, anti-immigration parties since the 2014 election, so the May vote could significantly change Europe’s top legislative body.

Right-wing rise

In Italy, Mr Salvini’s support has surged since the last election a year ago, from under 20% to the mid-30s.

Nationalists are now in power in Hungary (Viktor Orban’s Fidesz) and Poland (the Law and Justice Party).

With the UK’s Brexit still expected to go ahead, the plan is that 27 of the UK’s 73 seats will be redistributed,

 »