EU-Logos

Matteo
Salvini, leader of the
Italian
government and of the Lega party, called a second time to build an
alliance between the conservatives and far right parties in the
European Parliament (EP). A “League of the Leagues” ¹ aimed to
become the most important group in the EP but which seems more
difficult to achieve than expected.

July
2018: a first call.

A
year ago, Matteo Salvini already supported the idea of a “League of
the Leagues in Europe” during the annual assembly of his party, in
Pontida. At that time, the project was no different: to
create
an alliance of European
political parties which
would defend
their national borders. His objectives are to become both the first
party of Italy and the first political group in the EP. If he
succeeds,
the Italian
deputy prime minister could consider becoming the Spitzenkandidaten
(leading candidate)

of this new group.

Nevertheless,
the project seemed far
from being concretised and was neglected up until last month when
Salvini reaffirmed his will to create the party group.

The
6th of April 2019:  
The
European Alliance of People and Nations.

Monday
the 6th
of April,
Matteo
Salvini gathered
with his
European
counterparts and
urged once again the establishment
of a European alliance.
Among the guests you could find Jorg Meuthen from the nationalist and
eurosceptic German party Alternative
für Deutschland
;
Anders Vistisen from the Dansk
Folkeparti
,
a Danish
nationalist party ; and Olli Kotro, Finnish leader from the Finns
Party
.

Despite this remarkable guest list, most of the international newspapers decided to focus on the missing counterparts. For instance, the absence of Marine Le Pen from the French party Rassemblement National (RN) – ally of Salvini- was noticed. The Polish conservative party, Pawo i Sprawiedlivosc, lead by Kaczynski and Fidesz –Viktor Orban’s party- was also absent. In response to the absence of the RN, Salvini claimed that he was actually representing its group of the European Parliament (ENL), an information confirmed by the RN. In fact, in the actual assembly the sovereigntist parties are still divided in 3 different parliamentary groups: the Europe of Nations and Liberties (ENL), the European People Party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). This diversity -which reflects the various political views- is often labelled under the simplistic notion of ‘populism’. Such differences suggest that the establishment of a “League of the Leagues” could be complicated.

Sovereignists’ motto: ‘United in diversity’ ?

The
difficulties of an alliance between nationalist forces should not
come as a
surprise and rather
seems to be in the essence of these movements
devoted to promote and protect national specificities and interests.

These
tensions not
only exist between parliamentary groups but also within the ENL
itself, in which the leadership is heavily disputed.
For
a long time,
Marine le Pen acted
as
a mentor for Salvini but since his
accession at
the head of the Italian government,
the balance of power was
disrupted.
In fact, the RN still suffers
from its
old image as the Front
National (FN),
the previous name of the party,
while Matteo Salvini
managed to develop a
more normalized image of its party following his electoral success.
He therefore now benefits from his party being recognized as
‘mainstream’.
This difference enables
him to get in contact with the PiS and Fidesz,
which are not labelled as
far right. Consequently,
the RN could lose its central position or even become a burden for
Salvini’s projects.
Moreover,
the expulsion of Orban’s party from the EPP
creates a new opportunity for Orban and Salvini to form an alliance
which could further undermine the RN’s relationship with Salvini.
Hence, this open door motivates the RN to look for new allies :
Marine Le Pen is now seeking alliances with the other European
nationalist such as the Belgian Vlaams
Belang
,
or its Slovak and Czech counterparts⁴.

The ‘far right’ label has long been an issue delaying the emergence of a “League of the Leagues” because of the reluctance of some parties to be directly associated with far-right extremists and neo-Nazi movements. For instance, in 2013, the Danish sovereigntist party refused an alliance with the FN. However, in 2014, the FN was the one to refuse an alliance with the Greek party Golden Dawn and the Hungarian Jobbik as it saw them as too extreme⁶. More recently, Luigi di Maio, the leader of the Five Stars Movement (M5S), expressed some concern about Salvini’s new potential allies which he considers as anti-Semitic. ³

Nevertheless,
the ‘far right label’ is not the only challenge that the alliance
would have to overcome. The parties are also divided on the Russian
issue. If the RN has a
good relationship with Russia, this friendship is seen as a threat by
the Polish, Danish, Finnish and Swedish nationalist parties, whose
sovereignty issues are often directed against Russia. Riikka Purra,
political advisor for the Finns
Party

even said that they had not trust in Marine Le Pen⁵.

The
issue of European identity also creates discordances. When Italians,
Polish or Czech are claiming that Christianity is a fundamental part
of European identity, the French RN prefers to use the principle of
laicity when dealing with issues related to Islam and
multiculturalism. Similar perspectives also arise on the structure of
the EU. While
the RN wishes to change the Union from within
and keep it as a union of sovereign nations, the SPD lead by Tomio
Okamura in contrast, expresses
the will to leave the Union.

At
last,
the potential allies
tend to disagree over the future direction of economic policies.
In fact, there is a considerable
discrepancy
between the German and Austrian perspectives on the one hand, which
preach liberalism, and the Danish culture of social-democracy on the
other hand, which supports a welfare state directed towards the
nationals, or yet again the French RN which
advocates for economic
protectionism.

In
response to
these important divergences, Marine Le Pen declared
that: “liberty for each nations”. United
in diversity ironically became a motto for Euroscepticism. “This
project is aimed for each nation to find its own way” argued the
Danish Anders Vistisen³. He was also warning his counterparts
against the risk of being divided by their common opponents when,
according to him, the danger is more a matter of seeing the “European
identity and multiculturalism” prevail
over national identities.

A failure would not be a defeat: « Only the vote matters ».

No
matter the differences of opinion and the diverse interests, Matteo
Salvini already announced a meeting on the 18th of May 2019 in Milan,
with twenty European sovereigntist parties -including the RN
represented by Marine Le Pen- in order to build this alliance⁷.
Nevertheless,
a failure would not be a defeat. Just like
Nicolas Bay, a European deputy for the RN, few people believe than
such an alliance is possible. The alliance would mostly
be a political symbol, a symbolic victory for Salvini. Regardless, in
fact at the end ‘only the vote matters’ said Mattias Karlsson
member of the democrats of Sweden.

Despite
some common elements such as Euroscepticism, rejection of
immigration, or hostility toward multiculturalism, diversity seems to
be the key element to understand the so-called rise of populism in
Europe. The adjective ‘populist’ is nowadays a convenient label
to give to any party criticizing the EU, used and abused by the
traditional political parties in order to delegitimize their
opponents. The word ‘populist’ became a joke, preventing any
debates to appear on some sensitive issues: immigration, cultural
tensions or the crisis of legitimacy in the EU. This excessive use
and misuse of the word, however, did not bring out any solution.

Considering
this abusive usage of the world ‘populist’ in the media and
political debates, we consider that a part of the mission of EU-logos
Athéna is to
clarify
the meaning behind the word. Through the #LaRéplique section,
we will try to analyse the European politics while bearing in mind
the necessity to be clear about the meaning that is given to
political notions -such as populism- that are too often overused and
tend to lose their meaning or become a ‘catch-all’.

In
this perspective and waiting for some additional development, it
could be more useful to refer to an article on populism, published
two years ago on our website but nevertheless
still relevant today: #La
Réplique : de la bonne utilisation du terme « populiste »

by Rémi Petitcol.

Baptiste
Richard.

For more information:

Petitcol.R : #La Réplique : de la bonne utilisation du terme « populiste », Eu-Logos Athéna, mai 2017.

References:

1
: Italie:
Salvini lance l’idée d’une « Ligue des Ligues » en Europe
,
RTBF Belgique, Juillet 2018 :
https://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/detail_italie-salvini-lance-l-idee-d-une-ligue-des-ligues-en-europe?id=9961496

2
: D’Angelo.R, A
Rome, le Rassemblement national court après Matteo Salvini
,
Journal Du Dimanche, Mars 2019. :

https://www.lejdd.fr/Politique/a-rome-le-rassemblement-national-court-apres-matteo-salvini-3883682

3
: Européennes
: Salvini lance un appel à tous les nationalistes
,
Paris Match, mars 2019. :
https://www.parismatch.com/Actu/International/Europeennes-Salvini-lance-un-appel-a-tous-les-nationalistes-1617444

4
: Gauquelin.B, Hivert.A.F, Soullier.L : Marine
Le Pen recherche alliés desespérement
,
Le Monde, 30 avril 2019.

5
: Masseli.F : Salvini
réunit les souverainistes à Milan, mais son projet est en
difficulté
, L’Opinion,
avril 2019. :

https://www.lopinion.fr/edition/international/salvini-reunit-souverainistes-a-milan-projet-europeen-est-en-183492

6
: Élections
européennes : le mirage d’une grande alliance nationaliste voulue
par Matteo Salvini,
France
24, avril 2019. :

https://www.france24.com/fr/20190408-elections-europeennes-extreme-droite-salvini-federer-alliance-peuple-nations-apn

7
: Européennes
2019: Orban et Salvini sur la voie d’une «coopération»
anti-immigration après les européennes
,
Le Soir Belgique, mai 2019. :

https://www.lesoir.be/221915/article/2019-05-02/europeennes-2019-orban-et-salvini-sur-la-voie-dune-cooperation-anti-immigration

8
: L’Italien
Matteo Salvini veut lancer une alliance souverainiste pour les
européennes,
RTBF
belgique, avril 2019.
:

https://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/detail_l-italien-matteo-salvini-veut-lancer-une-alliance-souverainiste-pour-les-europeennes?id=10190628

L’article #LaRéplique – The European Alliance of People and Nations: a tough construction. est apparu en premier sur Le portail de référence pour l'espace de liberté, sécurité et justice.

Author :
Print