Fascist Front National leader Marine Le Pen and Dutch racist populist Geert Wilders have finally got their hands on around €17.5m of public money by forming a new fascist and racist group in the European Parliament.
The pair first planned the move in 2013, well before last year’s European elections but were scuppered because they could not assemble MEPs from seven different countries – a requirement to form an official, funded group.
But now ex-UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson and members of Polish far right party the Congress of the New Right (KNP) – which split this year when leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke quit to form his own party – have given Le Pen and Wilders the two extra countries they needed.
Le Pen’s FN and Wilders’ PVV had already negotiated a five-country tie-up with the Belgian fascist group Vlaams Belang, the Austrian far right party FPÖ and the Lega Nord, the Italian far right racist party.
Atkinson was kicked out of UKIP in March after the MEP was caught in a newspaper sting trying to claim extra expenses by bumping up a restaurant bill. The racist party had declined to expel her when she earlier called a Thai woman in her constituency a “ting tong”.
The KNP have turned kingmakers again. Two of the four KNP MEPs have provided Le Pen and Wilders with the last piece of their jigsaw. Last year it was KNP MEP Robert Jarosław Iwaszkievicz who gave Nigel Farage the extra MEP he needed to form the UKIP-dominated Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.
Le Pen and Wilders’ formation of the new European Parliamentary group, called Europe of Nations and Freedoms, means the assorted bunch of fascists and racists will get their hands on substantial amounts of public money.
Marine Le Pen is also keen to bring her party into alliance with organisatiosn such as the PVV that do not have a fascist past as part of her strategy of “de-demonisation” – giving the fascist FN a shiny “respectable” veneer.
But the alliance is a move to the right for Wilders’ PVV, which once distanced itself from fascist organisations.
The move is a further turn towards fascism for Lega Nord (Northen League), which used to sit in UKIP’s group in the European Parliament. The Lega has also allied itself inside Italy with the fascist activist group Casa Pound.