Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Right-wing figures working together in EU parliament


Some of Europe's most prominent right-wing politicians are uniting in a single faction in the EU parliament, but other EU lawmakers and political analysts doubt the new group will have much impact on mainstream policies.

The formation of the Identity, Sovereignty and Tradition group, announced last week, brings together some big names from the fringes of European politics. Among them is France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is again running for president on a nationalist platform that plays on concerns about immigration, globalization and the contention that France has sacrificed its interests and sovereignty to the EU.

Another standout in the group is Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the Italy's wartime Fascist dictator.

Together they will form the first far-right faction in the European Parliament in more than a decade -- and enjoy, at least briefly, a platform in the spotlight to call for action on some of the issues that dominate the debate among Europe's right-wing figures: namely limits on immigration and resisting the EU's drive for closer integration among its 27 member nations.

The group's formation also means it will be able to secure EU funding that can be used for campaigning and promoting its ideas.

The 20 members from seven countries -- the minimum required to form a group in the 785-seat parliament -- will be led by Bruno Gollnisch, the No. 2 behind Le Pen in France's National Front party. Le Pen's daughter also joins them in the new EU parliament group.

Other members include three deputies from Belgium's nationalist Flemish Interest Party and a Bulgarian who caused a stir in the parliament last year when, still as an observer, he used racial slurs against a Hungarian lawmaker of Roma, or Gypsy, origin.

Across Europe, nationalist politicians have made gains in recent elections, including in Belgium where Flemish Interest is now the strongest party in the country's Dutch-speaking north.

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