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Marine Le Pen teams up with Italian far right in Viktor Orbán’s new EU group -Dlight News

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Marine Le Pen’s far-right party is teaming up with Italy’s League in the new “Patriots for Europe” group, founded by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, which is set to become the third-largest faction in the European parliament.

With 30 MEPs from France’s Rassemblement National, and eight European lawmakers from Matteo Salvini’s League, the new group is on track to overtake Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

“Today, after long work, the large Patriots group is born, together with the League in Brussels, which will be decisive in changing the future of Europe,” Salvini, Italy’s deputy premier, said on the social media platform X.

Salvini teaming up with Orbán, who prompted outcry among EU and Nato allies last week when he visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow, is a snub to Meloni, who has been a steadfast supporter of Ukraine and critic of the Russian president.

The Patriots were founded by Austria’s far-right Freedom party (FPÖ) and Orbán, whose spokesperson on Monday said Le Pen’s RN had joined the new group. Two other people involved in the group confirmed the French move, though Le Pen has not yet made any public comment on her decision.

It was set to hold its inaugural meeting in the European parliament on Monday afternoon.

The group seeks to cut immigration, repatriate powers from Brussels to national governments and end the war in Ukraine despite Kyiv’s warning that any peace talks at this point would amount to its capitulation on Moscow’s terms.

Vox, Spain’s hard-right party that counts six MEPs, quit ECR for the Patriots, which relegated Meloni’s group to fourth place, with 78 members after last month’s elections for the EU assembly. The liberal Renew group built around Emmanuel Macron’s centrists has slid into fifth with 76 members. The centre-right European People’s party is the largest group in the assembly, followed by the Socialists & Democrats.

The Patriots in effect replaces Identity and Democracy (ID), the former home of Le Pen and Salvini, which had 49 members in the previous assembly. The Dutch Freedom party of Geert Wilders and Belgium’s ultranationalist Vlaams Belang switched to the Patriots from ID over the weekend.

But the proliferation of right-wing groups also means their dreams of a super-merger that would wield significant power in the EU assembly appear to be over.

“There is still a very solid majority on the other side,” said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs. “In terms of policy, you can see them slowing down the legislative agenda on certain points, but you can’t quite see them able to completely derail or reverse that agenda.”

“It’s a space to watch . . . you shouldn’t lower your guard, but they will remain a minority for now,” she added.

Parties are able to bid for jobs such as committee chairs and vice-presidents, but MEPs still vote on the positions, and the pro-European majority operates a “cordon sanitaire” to keep any far-right lawmakers out of power.

The ECR, which had leadership positions in the outgoing assembly, is already opening up dividing lines with the Patriots.

Orbán’s trip to Moscow was condemned by the new Dutch prime minister Dick Schoof — who was appointed by Wilders after the far right became the largest party in The Hague in last year’s general election.

Alternative for Germany leader Alice Weidel, whose MEPs were expelled from ID over comments made by their lead candidate who condoned the Nazi SS, told the Financial Times last week that she was also seeking to form a group — potentially based on the remains of ID. The ID is set to be dissolved unless Weidel convinces MEPs from six other countries to join up.

Video: Why the far right is surging in Europe | FT Film

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