EP elections: Will eurosceptics, extremists, populists, radicals cooperate?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. Marine Le Pen listed Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), Italy’s Northern League, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, the Sweden Democrats and Lithuanian ex-president Rolandas Paksas’ party as possible partners in the next EP. How would you assess the chance they can create a coherent faction in the EP?

2. Just recently I have heard from Die Linke MEP Jürgen Klute that his world view is different than Le Pen’s party, but e.g. views on economy are not so different. Would you say the the far right and radical left parties can from time to time cooperate also on the EU level? (e.g. similar views also on Ukraine crisis).

Answers:

Nathalie BrackVisiting Research Fellow, Department of Politic and International Relations, Oxford University, Researcher Centre d’études de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles

1. I would say that it’s likely that they will form a faction in the EP if the polls are correct. Forming a faction has been quite important for Marine Le Pen’s strategy. However as you point out, the whole question is to what extent this faction will be coherent. I think it will be comparable to the current EFD group in the sense that they will agree on some key points and a programme to avoid repeating history (when the radical right group was dissolved after a decision of the Court stating they had not enough political affinities). So they will need some general elements and key points on which they agree and they might try to act as coherent as possible but given the heterogeneity on various issues (economy, Islam, values), it’s rather likely they won’t be very cohesive as a fraction.

2. Concerning the cooperation between radical right and radical left, it is indeed so that they share sometimes some similarities (in the literature, it’s acknowledged that Euroscepticism produce some strange bedfellowships). But it depends on the party and the issue. So some radical right parties are more protectionist in economic terms and are closer to the left than the right (Front National and Vlaams Belang for instance) while others are in favour of free market economy and close to the right. Both the radical left and the radical right are quite heterogeneous so it’s difficult to determine general patterns but on some issues, they vote indeed alike but to my knowledge they is no formal and institutionalized cooperation between the two.

Daphne HalikiopoulouLecturer in Comparative Politics, University of Reading

1. Yes, this is mainly an initiative by Wilders and Le Pen. I’m not sure however how successful this may be. While the idea is to establish and expand the partnership for radical right-wing parties, this is a diverse party family. While some may share a common euroscepticism, they actually differ on the extreme-radical-populism scale. Beyond the parties you mention, it will be even more difficult to expand: for example, UKIP won’t want to label itself as radical right, while the golden Dawn and Jobbik might appear more extreme. Wilders’ party actually also resents the label far right, and while the Front National has done a lot to revamp itself, it is still associated with the right-wing extremism of Jean-Marie Le Pen for some. So a strategic move, but difficult to reconcile a diverse party family I would say when it comes to practice.

2. I would say it is very difficult. They will share a common eurosceptic view and yes, say some foreign policy views. But their world view is so different. So although in practice they share commonalities, their ideological principles will prevent them from tainting themselves with a formal cooperation.

Cas MuddeAssistant Professor, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia

1. I think the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF) will be able to constitute an official political group in the next European Parliament, although it might take some months, and could include only six parties and a couple of individual (rogue) MEPs.

2. The far left and far right will not official collaborate at the EU level, as they are officially each other’s worst enemies, but they will undoubtedly regularly vote together (without coordination), as they share several policies and, most notably, both oppose many EU policies.

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