Le Pen and Wilders announce new far-right alliance in Europe
French and Dutch party leaders want to ‘liberate Europe from the monster of Brussels’
Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’s Party for Freedom, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen of France, address a news conference in The Hague today. Photograph: Toussaint Kluiters/Reuters
Two of Europe’s most high-profile right-wing leaders, Marine le Pen and Geert Wilders, finally went public today and announced the birth of a “historic” new alliance to fight next year’s European Parliament elections – and to “liberate Europe from the monster of Brussels”.
After months of talks, the leaders of France’s National Front and the Netherlands’s Freedom Party said they had identified enough common ground to allow them to act as a counter-balance to “the Brussels elite”, whom they accused of “waging economic war” against European electorates.
On the crest of a wave of popular anti-austerity sentiment, both parties are expected to perform well in the May elections, and are hoping that a pan-European alliance will give them the 25 MEPs from seven countries needed to form an official group in the Strasbourg parliament.
Informal talks have already taken place indicating that the alliance could include parties such as Italy’s Northern League, the Freedom Party of Austria, Alternative for Germany, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the True Finns Party, and perhaps the Sweden Democrats, who remain somewhat reluctant.
The UK Independence Party has already ruled out any involvement, saying some of Mr Wilders’s views are too extreme – though today the Freedom Party leader said he would still welcome both Ukip and the Danish People’s Party to any new group.
The messages that will form the core of their joint campaign were hammered home again and again by both leaders at a press conference in The Hague: primarily, that there had been a “disastrous” erosion of sovereignty in the nations of the EU and particularly of the euro zone – leaving national parliaments virtually powerless.
As a result, contended Ms Le Pen and Mr Wilders, the governments of Europe needed, in particular, to re-establish control over economic, monetary, legislative and immigration policy – allowing them once again to become “masters of their own destiny and liberty”, as Ms Le Pen put it.
“A new wind is blowing through Europe,” she said. “This is a time for a movement of patriots against a powerful system which has turned our people into slaves and destroyed their jobs. The day when patriotic movements were divided, sometimes in fear of being demonised, is long gone.”
The alliance, Mr Wilders agreed, would ensure that European countries were run by sovereign governments and not by “diktats” from Brussels. “We will liberate Europe from the monster of Brussels”, he declared.
A former lawyer, Ms Le Pen has sought to modernise the National Front, ridding it of overt extremists such as neo-Nazis and racists, and has distanced herself from the anti-Semitic views of her father, Jean Marie. In response to questions, Mr Wilders repeatedly referred to Ms Le Pen as the party’s “boss”.
Earlier, Mr Wilders and Ms Le Pen – whom he described as “an important politician, a future leader of France and a good friend” – visited the Dutch parliament where they were heckled by demonstrators with placards saying “No room for racism”.
“This alliance is very dangerous – we’re against everyone who wants to polarise society,” said one of the demonstrators, Ewout van den Berg (26).