Le Pen, Orban and Salvini ready to unite sovereignists in the Patriots of Europe (but without Meloni)

Le Pen, Orban and Salvini ready to unite sovereignists in the Patriots of Europe (but without Meloni)

The new sovereignist mega-group in the European Parliament seems to be closer. Marine Le Pen is focused on the electoral campaign in view of the run-off elections in France on Sunday 7 July, but the leader of the Rassemblement National has not forgotten the European Parliament, where political negotiations for the formation of a new radical right grouping are proceeding frenetically. French politics is said to be one step away from abandoning the current Identity and Democracy (ID) group, of which it is currently part together with the League, to join Viktor Orban’s “Patriots of Europe”.

The patriots of Europe

The Hungarian prime minister and his party Fidez (which elected 11 MEPs) promoted the new formation that has so far received the official support of ANO, the party of former Czech prime minister Andrej Babis (7 MEPs), the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO, 6 MEPs) of Herbert Kickl and the Portuguese Chega (2 MEPs), and now also the Spanish Vox (6 MEPs), while the Polish Law and Justice have stayed out. But to form a group in Strasbourg and Brussels a minimum of 23 MEPs from at least seven member states are needed.

How political groups are created and how they work in the European Parliament

Other possible candidates are Smer, led by Slovakian Robert Fico (5 deputies), SDS, led by former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa (currently in the EPP, 4 deputies), plus some other far-right groups still looking for a home. But obviously the accession of the Rassemblement National, with its 30 representatives, would be a significant purchase that would perhaps also allow the group to equal (if not surpass) the size of Giorgia Meloni’s Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which has 78 deputies.

The negotiations

And the possibility of a leap seems real. “Everything that favors the interests of patriots in the European Parliament is good for us. Orbán is a very good politician who has the ability to operate at the European level,” an RN official told the Financial Times. Zoltán Kóvacs, spokesman for the Hungarian prime minister, speaking to journalists in Budapest yesterday (July 4), said to “keep an eye out” for developments on the group in the coming days. “It’s not that we trust that things will change, it’s that they will change,” he assured.

The constituent meeting of ID was supposed to be held last Monday, July 1, but it was postponed to next Monday after the Austrians of the FPO announced the switch to Orban.

Orban’s “supergroup” in the European Parliament

At the moment, no one among the members of ID is committing themselves on her future, which will depend a lot on the results of Sunday’s elections. But if Le Pen decides in the end to join forces with Orban, in all likelihood the eight MEPs of the League will do the same, with Matteo Salvini who has already publicly expressed his interest in Orban’s project, and Marco Zanni who has called it “the most interesting project for the alternative in Europe”.

The group could also include the Danes of the People’s Party (one MP), the Belgians of Vlaams Belang (3) and perhaps the Estonians of the Conservative Party, who have one MP and are currently with the ECR. In total, there are potentially around eighty MPs. But the political earthquake unleashed by such a move could lead others to join.

Relations with Meloni

The Patriots of Europe would collaborate on a political level with Meloni’s ECR, but they would be in competition with regard to the (few) institutional positions to which they could aspire. In the legislature that is ending, the conservatives have secured a vice-president of the Parliament, the Latvian Roberts Zile, and a committee president, the Belgian Johan Van Overtveldt, because they came from his parties considered more moderate.

And for the time being, the Italian prime minister wants to maintain his reputation in Europe as a representative of a radical right, but at least more diplomatic. His clear positions in defense of Ukraine will help him in this, while Orbán and Le Pen traditionally have more favorable positions towards Moscow.