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France's Front National fails to form group in EU Parliament

L to R: Matteo Salvini (Italy), Harald Vilimsky (Austria), Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Gerolf Annemans (Belgium)
L to R: Matteo Salvini (Italy), Harald Vilimsky (Austria), Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Gerolf Annemans (Belgium) REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

France’s far right Front National party has failed in its bid to create a parliamentary group in the European Parliament.

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It’s a setback for the party, which garnered nearly 25 per cent of votes in France’s election to the EU parliament in May.

Shortly afterwards on 28 May, FN president Marine le Pen declared that she was confident that the FN would be able to find partners, saying “We have absolutely no worries that we will be able to form a future group”.

A political group in the European Parliament must constitute at least 25 MEPs from seven different countries.

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The Dutch PVV, run by Geert Wilders, the Belgian Vlaams Belang, Austria’s FPO and the Italian Northern League were all ready to join such a grouping but it proved impossible to recruit parties from the two other countries necessary before the 24 June deadline.

The party hopes to form a group later but will not now be ready for the inaugural session of the European Parliament on 1 July.

The FN issued a communiqué stating that the five parliamentary parties had “chosen to prioritise quality and clarity over a quick deal”, adding that it hoped “very soon” to form a “solid, powerful and credible alliance”.

An official parliamentary group is entitled to public funds, for a group of the size envisaged by Marine Le Pen, between 20 and 30 million euros per year would be available.

Also, only members of political parties which are in an official group are allowed to put forward amendments to legislation.

In contrast, Britain’s euro sceptic UKIP (UK Independence Party, which also wants greater control over immigration) managed to form a parliamentary group after the defection of French Front National MEP, Joëlle Bergeron, who had been involved in a disagreement with the FN leadership.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has refused to be involved with France’s Front National maintaining that it has anti-Semitism “in its DNA”.

Marine Le Pen is trying to clean up the image of the FN and rejects accusations that it is anti-Semitic.

She ruled out a partnership with Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party or the National Democratic Party in Germany.

She is currently engaged in a war of words with her father, Jean-Marie, FN founder and honorary life member, following comments he made about French singer Patrick Bruel, judged by many to be anti-Semitic.

Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, hinted on Tuesday that he would have made different choices over which far right parties were suitable as partners, from those made by his daughter.

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