Six European conservative parties have held a secret meeting to join forces for European Parliament elections next may, putting anti-immigrant and anti-Islam policies as a common strategy.
On Islam “We want a cooperation of constructive, positive, patriotic forces in Europe,” Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO) parliamentarian Norbert Hofer told Reuters by telephone during a break in the meeting held on Friday, November 15. “The patriotic forces must work with one another, not against one another,” he said, adding that they were not for a break-up of the bloc but did discuss options such as dividing the common euro currency into a northern and a southern euro.
The politicians from France’s National Front, Italy’s Northern League, the Sweden Democrats and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang were hosted in Vienna by Austria’s Freedom Party (FPO), which won 20 percent in a national election in September.
The meeting, held in Vienna, was capitalizing on what polls suggest is rising voter frustration with mainstream politics and the European Union. According to France Le Liberation, the meeting happened in secret so as not to attract the attention of possible demonstrators.
Right wing leaders also wanted to have enough time to strategize about the future of Europe, the paper added. “The points that unite us are more important than those that separate us,” Andreas Molzer, the organizer of the meeting and an Austrian member of the European Parliament, told Liberation.
The leaders of the Dutch Freedom Party and the French National Front, Geert Wilders and Marine le Pen, held a rare joint news conference in The Hague on Wednesday to call for like-minded European parties to unite.
The leaders announced their alliance and desire to “liberate Europe from the monster of Brussels,” Wilders told reporters, Aljazeera reported. “The time of patriotic movements being divided is over,” Le Pen said.
Joining forces ahead of EU elections, the conjoined parties wanted to set an agenda for their policies, putting anti-immigrants and anti-Islam policies at the top.
“We are going to define a number of themes tomorrow to go to voters together,” Vlaams Belang’s Filip Claeys told Flemish newspaper De Morgen said, Aljazeera reported. “Think migration and the extension of the European Union.” The politicians aim to form a political party in the European Parliament for which they need 25 representatives from seven countries.
At least 25 members from a minimum of seven countries are needed to form a group in the European Parliament, a status that entitles its members to EU funds for meetings and publicity as well as more office space and support staff.
Unemployment and economic grievances have combined with suspicion of European integration, Islam and multiculturalism to propel the popularity of the Right across the continent, from Greece to France and the Nordic countries.
Britain’s Eurosceptic UK Independence Party has so far rebuffed calls to join such a group, while the fledgling group itself rejects more extreme right-wing parties such as Hungary’s Jobbik or Greece’s Golden Dawn.
Right wing politicians across Europe have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities in recent years. Dutch lawmaker Wilders has called for banning the Muslim face-veil in the Netherlands and stopping immigration from Muslim countries. In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats have unveiled plans to impose a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.