Gypsy-haters, holocaust-deniers, xenophobes, homophobes, anti-semites: the EU's new political force

Europe's far-right, xenophobic and extremist parties crossed a new threshold yesterday, winning more speaking time, money, and political influence in the European Parliament than ever before.

Claiming the backing of 23 million Europeans, ultra-nationalists secured enough MEPs to make a formal political grouping, underlining the growing challenge posed by the far right across the continent. For the first time since the Second World War a series of elections has swept nationalistic, far-right parties into office in municipal, regional, national and European parliament elections. The admission of Romania and Bulgaria in January of this year brought in enough far-right MEPs to form a bloc.

Mainstream politicians have been struggling for years to contain the threat from hardline nationalists and extremists who have entered coalitions or supported ruling governments in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Poland and Slovakia.

Amid formal protests and jeers in the Strasbourg Parliament, 20 MEPs yesterday signed up to the new formation called Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS). As a formal group, they are entitled to up to €1m in central funding. It is led by Bruno Gollnisch of France's National Front, who is awaiting a court verdict on charges of Holocaust denial.

Made up of ultra-nationalists the group includes one Bulgarian parliamentarian, Dimitar Stoyanov, who yesterday attacked the "Jewish establishment" and accused Roma parents of selling 12-year-olds into prostitution.

Even the ringtone of Mr Stoyanov's phone points to his hardline politics. It features a former Bulgarian national anthem which, he says, "tells of the atrocities of the Turkish army in the second Balkan war, how the rivers were flowing with blood and the widows weeping, and urges people to fight for Bulgaria".

A previous far-right grouping in the European Parliament faltered in the 1980s and rival MEPs predict that ITS will have a limited impact on the Strasbourg assembly.

Martin Schulz, leader of the socialist group which is the second-largest in the Parliament, appealed to other MEPs to unite to prevent ITS from securing senior positions in Strasbourg. He said: "We must not abandon this Parliament, which symbolises the integration of Europe, to those who deny all European values."

The new political group was established despite efforts by socialist MEPs to block its formation. One British MEP, Ashley Mote, has joined the group. A former Ukip member, Mr Mote was suspended from that party in 2004 when he faced prosecution for housing benefit fraud and has since sat as an independent.

Prominent members of the far-right alliance include Jean-Marie Le Pen, veteran member of the French National Front, who shocked Europe by reaching the second stage of the last French presidential elections, Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Benito Mussolini, Frank Vanhecke, leader of Belgium's separatist Flemish nationalist party, Vlaams Belang, and Andreas Mölzer, a former aide to the Austrian far-right leader, Jörg Haider.

Under the Parliament's rules a formal grouping requires 20 MEPs from at least six countries. That requirement was reached only after Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU this month.

As MEPs converged on Strasbourg, Mr Stoyanov, who at 23 is the Parliament's youngest member, claimed the ITS had crossed a threshold of power. "We will be able to table amendments," said Mr Stoyanov. "We will have longer speaking time in the plenary sessions and, eventually, we will win chairman, or deputy chairman, positions on committees." Mr Stoyanov, of Bulgaria's Ataka party, denied being anti-Semitic but said he opposed the "Jewish establishment" which used ordinary Jewish people "like pawns".

In the parliamentary chamber Mr Gollnisch claimed that the new group " will speak on behalf of 23 million Europeans who would not be represented without us".

He added: "We will be the Parliament's conscience. We will be vigilant defenders of the peoples and nations of Europe who want our continent and civilisation to be great."

The sweep of extremism in expanded Europe

Romania

Party: Partidul Romania Mare (Greater Romania)
Leader: Corneliu Vadim Tudor
No. of MEPs: 5

Has five ITS members, all from racist, homophobic Greater Romania party, a, nationalist organisation that voted against joining the EU. Among other things, the party despises ethnic Hungarians, Jews and Romas.

United Kingdom

Party: N/A (Independent)
No. of MEPs: 1

British membership of ITS is limited to South East England’s independent MEP Ashley Mote. Mr Mote first entered European politics with UKIP but was ejected in 2004 after being tried for benefit fraud.

Austria

Party: Austrian Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs)
Leader: Heinz-Christian Strache
No. of MEPs: One

The Austrian Freedom Party, which Jorg Haider made a household name is still winning votes even after his departure. The FP promises stronger anti-immigration laws, stricter law enforcement and more funds for families.

Italy

Party: Alternativa Sociale, Fiamme Tricolore
Leaders: Alessandra Mussolini and Luca Romagnoli respectively
No. of MEPs: 2

MEPs Alessandra Mussolini, and Luca Romagnoli are both remnants of the Fascist party that ruled Italy for two decades. Mussolini, grand-daughter of Il Duce, is a former glamour model. Neither enjoy mainstream support.

A long-cherished ambition, and a step further than before

Yesterday's developments are the culmination of a long-cherished ambition by Europe's far-right parties to form a recognised bloc in the European Parliament. They have had self-declared groups before, notably when Jean-Marie Le Pen of France's National Front led an alliance called the European Right in Strasbourg in 1984-89, followed by the Technical Group of the European Right in 1989-94. On the ground and away from the parliament, the far right has prospered in several countries since the mid-Eighties. In Austria, Jörg Haider emerged in 1986 as leader of the Freedom Party. The Swiss People's Party, led by Christoph Blocher, became Switzerland's second-strongest political force in 1999. In Denmark, the ultra-right Danish People's Party swept into parliament as the country's third-largest party following the 2001 elections. In Italy, the xenophobic Northern League entered a right-wing coalition in the same year. In Belgium, far-right Flemish separatists have gained support throughout the decade, and the Netherlands was convulsed by the rise of the populist anti-immigration campaigner, Pim Fortuyn.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Defendant Personal Injury 2+PQE

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - NICHE DEFENDANT FIRM - Defendant Pe...

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on