There has been a worrying uptick in support for far right parties across Europe in recent years. This has translated into the European parliament in the form of an influx of far right politicians. The number of far right MEPs elected in last month’s election was double the number elected in 2014 and they are trying to organise.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Italian far right party the Northern League, initially declared his intention that the new MEPs should form a group constituting the third largest party in the European Parliament and thus be able to secure influence and important roles within it. The group eventually formed falls short of that ambition, but constitutes the largest far right group in the European Parliament with 73 MEPs and the fifth largest group in the parliament overall.
The Identity and Democracy group will be led by Salvini’s League, and comprise of MEPs from Le Pen’s National Rally party in France (formerly the Front National), the German AfD, along with nationalists from Austria, Finland and Denmark, among others.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK’s Brexit Party, held talks with senior figures within the Identity and Democracy group earlier this month but the Brexit Party has not joined the group. This appears to be due to the post-Brexit shift in rhetoric by Eurosceptic parties across the rest of the EU away from explicitly advocating leaving the Union. For example Jörg Meuthen of the AfD said “Some people say that we want to destroy the EU, I want to contradict that” adding that the AfD, as a member of the Identity and Democracy group, believed that “The EU needs to be limited and reformed”.
Spain’s Vox, Poland’s Law and Justice, and Hungary’s Fidesz are other parties noticeably absent from the group.
Marco Zanni, the new leader of the group, said that it is important for all parties with a “radically different view of Europe” to join forces, leaving the door open for other parties to join at a later date.