Patriots for Europe becomes EU Parliament’s 3rd-largest group

11:20 10.07.2024 •

Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orbán.
Photo: AFP

France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen has joined forces with the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán in a new far-right alliance in the European parliament, POLITICO informs.

Jordan Bardella of the French National Rally will be the president of the European Parliament’s new far-right group, Patriots for Europe.

National Rally on Monday officially joined the Patriots group, instantly becoming the largest national delegation with its 30 EU lawmakers. And Bardella was chosen as the Patriots’ president at a meeting in Brussels that lasted less than 20 minutes.

In a statement, Bardella — who was not present at the meeting in Brussels — said the Patriots “represent hope for the tens of millions of citizens in the European Nations who value their identity, their sovereignty and their freedom. As patriotic forces, we are going to work together in order to retake our institutions and reorient policies to serve our nations and peoples.”

Patriots for Europe was formed in late June and also includes MEPs from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party, Fidesz. Kinga Gál of Fidesz was named first vice-president.

The addition of National Rally MEPs means that Patriots for Europe is the Parliament’s third-largest group by a comfortable margin, with 84 lawmakers from 12 countries, according to a Patriots press release.

As well as National Rally and Fidesz, the other group members are the League (Italy), Vox (Spain), Chega (Portugal), Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (Czech Republic), Oath and Motorists (Czech Republic), Christian Democratic People’s Party (Hungary), Freedom Party (Austria), Party for Freedom (Netherlands), Vlaams Belang (Belgium), Danish People’s Party, Voice of Reason (Greece), and Latvia First.

From left: former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and leader of ANO 2011,
Andrej Babiš, the President of the Austrian Freedom Party (Fpö), Herbert Kickl,and the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán (June 30, 2024)
Photo: EU news

The group, styled Patriots for Europe, becomes the third-largest force in the European parliament and the largest-ever far-right bloc in the history of the assembly, writes ‘The Guardian’.

The announcement came after the surprise result in France’s elections, when Le Pen’s National Rally came third after tactical voting to block the far right.

Led by Hungary’s governing Fidesz party – politically homeless since quitting the centre-right European People’s party (EPP) in 2021 – the group was founded only eight days ago by Orbán, the ANO party of former Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš and Austria’s far-right Freedom party leader Herbert Kickl.

Italy’s far-right leader Matteo Salvini announced on Monday that his League MEPs would join the group. “After a long period of work, the big group of patriots, which will be decisive to change the future of Europe, comes to life in Brussels today,” Salvini said on social media.

They follow in the footsteps of the Dutch Freedom party, Spain’s Vox, Portugal’s Chega, the Belgian separatist Vlaams Belang and the Danish People’s party.

“Our long-term goal is to change European Union policymaking,” Kinga Gál, a veteran Fidesz MEP, who will serve as Bardella’s deputy, told reporters.

The group, she said, would strive to “protect Europe’s Christian roots”, ensure “the strongest possible protection of Europe’s external borders” and a “strong competitive Europe”. She said she hoped other like-minded parties would join soon: “The door stays open to others who wish to join.”

The far-right Alternative für Deutschland, however, has not been invited to join, after being expelled from a previous alliance with Le Pen, when its lead candidate said the SS – the Nazis’ main paramilitary force – were “not all criminals”.

The arrival of Le Pen’s MEPs catapults the Patriots into third place, ahead of Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s nationalist European Conservatives and Reformists, pushing the liberal centrists into fifth place and the Greens into sixth.

While the group will be far larger than the previous far-right alliance – the Identity and Democracy group had 49 MEPs – it is likely to struggle to take influential jobs in the parliament, due to an informal cordon sanitaire against the far right.

The traditional centre-right and centre-left parties, who once commanded a majority between them, now have only a combined 45% of seats, with the EPP on 188 and the Socialists on 136.


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