Far-right leaders Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in talks to form anti-Europe alliance

French and Dutch  populist party chiefs could threaten Ukip’s influence in the EU

Paris

Both are blonde. Both are charismatic. Both are anti-immigrant and anti-European. Both have successfully brought their political movement towards – although not yet into – the national mainstream.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front in France, and Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, will attempt next month to launch the seemingly impossible – a pan-European Eurosceptic movement. With far-right or populist parties across Europe threatening to create upsets in next May’s European elections, Mr Wilders and Ms Le Pen believe that the time is right to form an anti-European alliance. Ms Le Pen will travel to the Netherlands next month to discuss a joint campaign in the European elections with Mr Wilders’ PVV.

Mr Wilders has already been on a European tour this summer to try to persuade like-minded parties in other countries to endorse a common Euro-sceptic and anti-immigrant platform next May, with limited success.

The Northern League in Italy, Vlaams Belang in Belgium and the Democratic Party in Sweden have reacted coolly to the idea. The United Kingdom Independence Party  rejected the alliance outright.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said this year: “Ukip is not right wing but a libertarian party which believes in small government, low taxes, personal freedom and responsibility under a democratic national government, not under Brussels rule. Ukip are not involved in this initiative by Geert Wilders.”

Part of the problem is that the various populist or far-right parties in Europe are nervous of being associated with one another.

“Our party has not joined the alliance,” said Martin Kinnunen, the spokesman for Sweden’s Eurosceptic Democratic Party: “It is hard to say anything at this stage as we don’t know which parties will participate.”

The Swedish Democrats are said to be reluctant, for domestic political reasons, to join any club which includes Ms Le Pen’s National Front or Jörg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party. No one, not even Mr Wilders, wants anything to do with overtly racist parties such as Jobbik in Hungary or the British National Party (BNP). It is doubtful whether a pan-European platform would bring many extra votes to the anti-European parties who are already predicted to score heavily in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria and, perhaps, Germany.

Opinion polls suggest that, with the help of low turnout, Ms Le Pen and Mr Farage could top their respective European campaigns and greatly enlarge their pool of MEPs.

A united European movement against the EU would, however, presage the creation of a strong, National Front-dominated anti-European group in the next European Parliament. This, paradoxically, might cause problems for Ukip and Mr Farage.

The existing Eurosceptic group in Strasbourg, Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), which is much riven by splits and resignations, is dominated by Ukip. Neither the French National Front nor Mr Wilders’ PVV – who have a handful of members in Strasbourg – belongs to the EFD.

If both Ms Le Pen and Mr Farage do as well as expected in May, they could each have 20 seats or more. To form an official group in Strasbourg – giving advantages of money and speaking time – 25 members are needed from seven countries.

If Mr Wilders and Ms Le Pen form, as expected, a strong new anti-European group in the European Parliament next summer, Ukip would face a dilemma. Should Mr Farage join that new group, or continue with his own? Other nationalist and populist members from other countries would be much courted by the Le Pen-Wilders group, potentially depriving Ukip of the allies it needs.

Ms Le Pen will travel to The Hague at Mr Wilders’ invitation next month. Mr Wilders told Dutch TV on Monday night that “the National Front and the PVV could make the Europhile elite sing a different tune”.

In September, Ms Le Pen told the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad that an alliance with the PVV would be useful electorally. “It is important to show the voters that we are not isolated,” she said. “That there are similar, patriotic movements active in every European country.”

In the past Mr Wilders refused to associate with the National Front because he disapproved of the anti-Semitic remarks of Ms Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Since she replaced her father in January 2011, Ms Le Pen has tried to clean up and “de-demonise” the NF and move it into left-wing territory on social policy and economic protectionism.

In her interview last month, she suggested that Mr Wilders was, in some respects, more right wing than she was. He has attacked Islam and compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. She said that she had “nothing against Islam itself” but opposed a “flood of Muslim immigrants and the intrusion of Islam in society”.

Marine Le Pen CV

* Born on 5 August 1968 in Neuilly sur Seine, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, former president of France's National Front.

* Graduated with a master's degree in law in 1990; lawyer 1992 to 1998.

* Became director of the National Front's legal service in 1998.

* Elected a member of Nord-Pasde-Calais Regional Council in 1998 and of the Île-de-France Regional Council in 2004.

* Elected to the European Parliament in 2004.

* Named as 71st most influential person in the world by Time in 2011.

* Stands for president in 2012 election, winning 17.9 per cent of the vote in first round, behind Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.

Ian Johnston

Geert Wilders CV

* Born 1963 in Venlo.

* Elected city councillor for Utrecht in 1997 after joining Liberal Party. Elected MP for Utrecht in 1998.

* Left the party in 2002 after disagreeing with its support for Turkey’s wish to join EU.

* Establishes the Party for Freedom (PVV) in 2006.

* After 2010 election PVV is third largest party.

* Cleared of inciting hatred against Islam in 2011. 

Michael Drummond

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine