No EP fraction for Marine Le Pen. What it means?

Marine Le Pen fails to form European Parliament group, so what are the main reasons in your opinion and is it a blow for her that may also impact National Front on the French political scene? Read few comments.

Aristotle Kallis, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Lancaster University

The outcome does not surprise me at all. Ultra-nationalist populist parties are deeply mistrustful of each other. The party family of what political scientists call ‘far’ or ‘radical’ right in Europe has reached the point of not being particularly useful any more. it contains so many disparate forces that range from the brutal violent activism and neb-nazi nostalgia of the Golden Dawn to the ‘polished’ populism of the Front National. No wonder then, when you add their nationalist agendas that are by definition exclusivist and distrustful of other nationalisms, that they found it hard to agree on joining forces. It may happen in the future – but even then it will be an opportunistic, volatile coalition that will probably break up soon.

Right now, there is a core of a potential far right grouping on the European level – France, Austria, Netherlands, possibly Italy, maybe Denmark. Le Pen staked her reputation on the success of her negotiations. Had she pulled it off, it would have been a massive boost to her popularity and to the standing of the radical populist right across Europe. However, even with this failure, her standing within France will not suffer too much. I think that the spat within the party (anti-Semitic comments by her father; defection by one of her MEPs to another rival group etc) will harm her party and her own standing far more. I think she played this game cleverly – what she had to gain from bringing about a European grouping was infinitely more important and profitable to her than what she would have to lose if she failed, as she now has. But it is true that this is a blow to her reputation as the emerging new pole for a radical right rallying cry across Europe.

As a final comment: isn’t it time that media and analysts stopped treating the ‘far right’ as one single family on the European level? It is not – not because they failed to form a group but because what divides them is far more important than what unites them. One does not gain much insight by putting the Front National and the Golden Dawn or Jobbik and UKIP in the same category – not because the Front National is ‘better’ or UKIP is ‘quirky’ but because they are different on many important levels (discourse, political communication, marketing etc). The sooner we sharpen our analysis, the better we can dissect why these forces did so well in European elections and the more effectively we can combat them – individually, on their national arenas as well as on the European level. Their peak was the European elections; they will not do as well in national elections, at least in most cases. We have five years to gain the communication field once again; that same field that populist politicians of the ‘mainstream’ parties and analysts of ‘mainstream’ media have conceded to the radical right parties in order to appease or glorify their putative ‘rise’. The mainstream is perhaps more responsible for the electoral and political rise of these forces than what these parties did themselves.

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

There are many reasons, among others the successful poaching of the ECR of EFD members, the ability of EFD to form a group anyway, and the exclusion of extreme right parties (i.e. NPD, Golden Dawn, Jobbik) by EAF. It is mainly due to the continuing ‘extremist’ status of the Front National, which was reinforced by some extreme statements by Jean-Marie Le Pen. The FN is still the prototype far right party, a symbol around Europe, which means it is considered a contagious stain by other parties that hope to become acceptable within their national political system. It mainly impacts FN financially. Given the more majoritarian electoral system of France, FN has few positions in the national parliament, which means it received very little state funding. For decades now it has relied on the European Parliament for political posts, patronage (staff), and financing. Electorally it won’t hurt her much, and given taht the other parties don’t want to work with her anyway, it doesn’t make her more or less ostracized in French politics.

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