British, German Eurosceptics Join; Farage, Le Pen Seek Allies

Nationalists on the right miss out as Germany’s Euroskeptics join to the reformist bloc.

Bernd Lucke, speaker of Alternative for Germany, in Munich, August 30, 2013
Bernd Lucke, speaker of Alternative for Germany, in Munich, August 30, 2013 (blu-News)

Germany’s anti-euro party Alternative für Deutschland joined the group that is led by Britain’s Conservatives and the Polish Law and Justice party in the European Parliament on Thursday, giving them more seats than the mainstream liberals.

The Alternative, which won seven seats in May’s European Parliament election, joined the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists, the mildest of three Euroskeptic groups in the assembly and now its third largest party.

The Danish People’s Party and the Fins Party earlier joined the reformists as well, defecting from the more radical Europe of Freedom and Democracy group that is led by Britain’s Nigel Farage.

Despite doubling its seats, Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party, which calls for Britain to leave the European Union, is struggling to find enough allies to continue to be recognized as a group in the European Parliament.

Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which won seventeen European Parliament seats, is likely to join after an online poll found strong grassroots support for entering Europe of Freedom and Democracy. But the bloc lost another Italian party, Lega Nord, with five seats, which is joining a third Euroskeptic alliance led by France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders.

Le Pen’s Front national won 24 seats in the European assembly, beating France’s mainstream conservatives and Socialist Party into second and third place. Wilders’ Freedom Party did worse than expected but still got 13 percent support, more than either the Netherlands’ ruling Labor or liberal party.

Joined by Belgium’s separatist Vlaams Belang and the Freedom Party of Austria, Le Pen and Wilders are still looking for two other parties.

In order to qualify for subsidies and committee seats, a bloc must have at least 25 members from seven European member states.

Poland’s socially conservative Congress of the New Right is expected to join but Lithuania’s Order and Justice party on Thursday denied reports that it was thinking about leaving Farage’s bloc for Le Pen and Wilders.

The three could be jockeying for the right-wing Sweden Democrats, who won two seats and have yet to declare their allegiance.