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It may be too soon to savor some schadenfreude but now that the dust has settled after the May 25 European elections, it looks like the gains made by the far right were slightly overestimated, and the possibility of a coalition among them is in doubt.  

At stake is the public funding the EU provides to the political groups in its Parliament.

The incoming assortment of xenophobics, racists, common bigots, nationalists, nativists, sovereignists, fascists, and neo-nazis still have a few weeks to find something they have in common as the basis for a political group.  That is if they can get over the hatred that propelled them to Brussels in the first place.

The European Parliament’s 751 members from 28 countries belong to around 200 different political parties that function at the national level. In Brussels, MEPs are organized into groups that must have at least 25 members from 7 different countries to be officially recognized. In the last session there were 7 political groups while 33 individual members remained unaffiliated with any of them.

The EU provides public funding for the Parliament’s official political groups. Amounts are paid in more than one category and they can be substantial over a five-year mandate. The funds help political groups cover their expenses and advance their agenda. There is no funding for the unaffiliated members.  The political groups also have advantages like additional time to speak in debate.

In the outgoing Parliament (2009-2014), Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), led the far-right’s political group, Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), with 31 members from 12 countries.

UKIP tripled the number of seats it will hold in the incoming Parliament, from 8 to 24 but the majority of Farage’s  coalition partners in other countries didn’t get reelected.  The requirement to have at least  25 members for a political group wasn’t in doubt. Finding them in 6 countries outside the UK left him scrambling. He had a competitor trying to assemble a coalition of her own.

Marine Le Pen and two other members of France’s far right party, Front National, held seats in the outgoing Parliament, but they didn’t join Nigel Farage’s EFD. They remained unaffiliated in the Parliament and focused on strategy at the national level in France.  As a result, the Front National will increase its representation from 3 members to 24.

Le Pen showed up in Brussels before the weekend after the election to show off her new coalition friends.  The press asked which countries would add their delegations to meet the minimum requirement of 7 but Le Pen had no answer. As of today, there are no additions to the partners announced a week ago. The Sweden Democrats are the most likely to join but the longer they stay on the fence, the less likely it seems. Even if they did join, the coalition would still be short one delegation.

# of MEPs
Freedom Party of Austria
Vlaams Belang
Front National
Lega Nord
Party for Freedom
Sweden Democrats
Nigel Farage hasn’t assembled a complete coalition with delegations from 7 countries either. The numbers were compiled from the updated results reported by the European Parliament.
# of MEPs
Dansk Folkeparti
Finns Party
5 Star Movement
Order and Justice
Christian Union/Politcal Reformed Party
Gaming out possible routes for  Le Pen and Farage to reach the  magic number needed for the Parliament’s recognition as a  political group is a European political junkie’s game.   Why is there a shortage of possible matches for them? They chose to eliminate  parties like the NPD in Germany, Jobbik in Hungary, and Golden Dawn in Greece.  

Also, with numerous unknown newcomers, it’s impossible to predict political group preference for each one.  When the election results came in, the traditional media erroneously reported as if the new members were exclusively far-right, except for Syriza in Greece. The new members are more diverse.

Maybe because of UKIP’s and the FN’s large gains, all of the new members were painted with the same broad brush by the media. Or it could be bias that made the press ignore gains made by the left. In the number of seats the media said were won by the far-right it turned out that there were 5 Podemos members from Spain who will probably affiliate on the left. Syriza already did affiliate with the left. 8 members of various political parties affiliated with the EPP.  There aren’t many possible matches for Le Pen and Farage because there aren’t as many far-right members as originally reported.

It might seem that the most obvious solution would be for Le Pen and Farage to join forces.  I don’t know much about Farage. I can say with confidence that Le Pen isn’t looking to play second fiddle in anyone else’s show.   Here she is clashing with a BBC interviewer who crossed a line when she suggested that Le Pen's politics are too extreme for the British. The BBC provided subtitles. One stroke of luck in Le Pen's rise to prominence - she doesn't speak English so there's no chance Americans will be interested in her.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'd sayFarage is looking (4+ / 0-)

    ahead to more gains in the UK and wants to keep a Umm,moderate distance from LePen. That said,it is interesting to consider how antithetical it is for nationalist,euroskepitcal parties to form coalitions to be part of EU governance. Why,it would be like some anti-government ideologues finding themselves in the US Congress. Hard to fathom.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:50:57 PM PDT

  •  I Think It Would Be The End Of Both Parties (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, moviemeister76, Sandino

    if Le Pen and Farage joined forces together.  Can you imagine?  LOL.  It would be like the KKK joining with the Nazis.  I mean they both hate black people, but who would lead and would it be sheets or Nazi helmets?

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:51:25 PM PDT

  •  Dansk Folkeparti (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, PeteZerria

    I asked one of my former students, in Denmark, about this.  He tells me that DF is nothing like UKIP or Front National and that there is nothing fascist about them.  He characterized them as nationalist social democrats, which is kind of an odd combination but nothing to be afraid of - especially as the European Parliament doesn't really have the power to do much of anything.

    Vai o tatu escamoso encontrar-me onde estou escondendo? Lembro-me do caminho de ouro, uma pinga de mel, meu amado Parati

    by tarkangi on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:53:06 PM PDT

    •  What people think about any of these parties is (4+ / 0-)

      very subjective.  I'm not familiar with it enough to say much.

      The Front National was founded in 1972 by Le Pen's father who headed it till he turned it over to her in 2011. In his day, the influence of fascism on FN ideology was obvious and the party remained at the fringe. Mainstreaming it was a very gradual process. Marine grew up with her father's beliefs and she remains very close to him. These are people who think of themselves as intellectuals. But they're still fascists and bigots at heart and they show their true colors now and then.

  •  Am I supposed (0+ / 0-)

    To care what they do/don't do in Europe?

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:56:59 PM PDT

  •  European Parliament aside, we still have (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, PatriciaVa, Sandino, PeteZerria

    the problem of racialist/fascist candidates getting more support from the general population, and more legitimacy within various governments. Don't see how that turns around as long as the Bankster Caste & its friends in government keep their thumb on the nations and people of Europe.

    A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned. -- Firefly

    by Jim P on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:08:31 PM PDT

    •  If you'd ever been there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penelope pnortney

      you'd know that the bulk of supporters of the hard Right and fascists are average and sadly average people, few of them rich and most of them far from it, and most concentrated in declining villages and small towns.  

      They hate the bankers, they hate the cities and city folk, they hate the government (despite native rural people being heavily subsidized overall), they hate each other, they hate themselves.  All for good reasons.  But when they see non-native people, they forget all that and hate those.

      That's their obsession.  It doesn't have much to do with bankers, which are your obsession.

      •  So the rural peasants suddenly increased (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PatriciaVa, Mark Lippman, Utahrd

        in numbers and also decided to vote. For no reason at all, except the immigrants they had been seeing for the last, what is it now? 30 years? suddenly really piss them off.

        Back here on real earth, would the increased votes have occurred if poverty-through-austerity hadn't driven a greater anger at immigrants over 'taking our jobs' type issues?

        In your rich fantasy life I'm sure you can't see any possible connection in the cycle: Bankers > Austerity > Poverty > Right Wing Growth. But most people aren't that obsessed with avoiding obvious realities.

        Perhaps you can bury your head in some books about what happened in Europe in the 1920s and 30s, and actually learn something besides throwing out, frankly, very stupid and ignorant, ad hominem.

        A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned. -- Firefly

        by Jim P on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:12:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Many Kossacks don't believe in the nation-state (0+ / 0-)

          They therefore support anything that can contribute to its demise, such as the Euro and its eventual US of Europe.

          Because they can't fathom that working and middle-class residents of the continent of Europe could oppose the Euro, they therefore seek out other reasons for supporting NonMainstream parties in the continent.

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

          by PatriciaVa on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:19:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, they didn't suddenly increase. There's (3+ / 0-)

          something else going on which is the real reason why I write about this. It seems like it applies in the US, too.

          What changed is the reliance on persuasive communication that profoundly affects public opinion to suppress the vote except for the far right which is energized.

          In this election, the FN didn't get more votes than it did in other elections since 2002. It's totals have remained relatively constant. The totals for the other parties have fluctuated a lot by comparison. In this election, the turnout was near a record low.  

          The media in France started promoting the FN a couple of years ago. At the same time, it kept up constant attacks on everyone else. Le Pen made some serious mistakes including a recent judgment against her for election fraud.
          She gets a pass, no matter what.

          It reminds me very much of the constant attacks and fabricated controversies Republicans aim at the Democrats. They can't win fair and square.

      •  The failure of neoliberalism (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northerntier, Sandino, Utahrd

        (& it is failing  most people), financialization and globalisation combined with a flaccid 'left' with an inchoate (often utterly vacuous) message is clearly leading to growing "othering". Doesn't even have to come from just longtime RW or reactionary nutters,goddess help us all. Here's a link to some actual journalism entitled,What happens to your town once a far-right party comes to power? Even has a reference to Romney's Bain. Jeux sans frontières....

        Across France, the FN has been gaining ground. March’s local elections were the most successful in the party’s 42-year history with just under 1,500 local councillors and 11 new towns won in the rust-belts of the north and south. Results from last week’s European elections confirm what so many had dreaded: that the FN, a party untouchable only a few years ago, is now a major force in French politics.

        In the national press, Hénin-Beaumont has become a symbol for this success. Here, as in many places, former communist voters have shifted to the far-right, swayed by an interest in local grievances they believe to be honest, and a populist anti-capitalism that appeals to their intellectual roots.

        “The mayor has been using the exact same speeches as the far-left syndicalist movement,” says Octave Nitkowski, a local blogger studying in Paris. ”It’s working because the socialist and communist parties are completely rotten.”

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 08:06:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Like many on the right here Le Pen likes Putin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, Sandino

    France's Le Pen says she admires Putin as much as Merkel - magazine

    "I think (Putin) puts the interests of Russia and the Russian people first so in this regard I have the same amount of respect for him as for Ms Merkel," she said in the interview.

    "A lot of things are said about Russia because for years it has been demonised on U.S. orders. It should be one of the great characteristics of a European country to form its own opinion and not to see everything from the perspective of the U.S."

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:26:12 PM PDT

    •  Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder just ... (0+ / 0-)

      ..celebrated Putin's Bday with him in St. Petersburg.

      Does that make Schroder a member of the Right?

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:31:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Marine Le Pen travelled to Russia after the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      municipal election around the first week of April. It coincided with the uptick in separatist activity in the east which turned out to be a sustained effort, though no one knew where it was headed at the time.

      While she was there, she made sure to endorse Putin's call for federalization. She also denounced the EU for its interference.

      In the US, this looks like it's out of alignment because Le Pen's brand is tainted with fascism and the government in Kyiv was, too. It would seem more logical for her to support Ukraine, not Russia.

      There's no such confusion in France where the organized left would never fall for a stunt like fascists pointing fingers at others and screaming "FASCiSTS!" I mean they could be right but it takes one to know one.

      Apart from that, Russia is openly and noticeably  friendly with the far right in Europe.  in a slick tabloid I read a few times a year, there was a story (probably untrue, or partly untrue) about a posh party last night in Vienna, attended by the who's who of rightwingers including Marine Le Pen's 24 year-old niece, allegedly, and the head of an ultra-right wing Bulgarian party, ATAKA. This was supposedly hosted by some oligarch from Russia, and attended by Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian writer I've written about here. The point of the story was to spread a rumor that the FN was going to include ATAKA in its coalition.

      Russia's connection to the far-right in Europe is recognized enough by the public that the tabloid story makes total sense to its readers.

  •  Why is UKIP fascist, but the Extremists Radical... (0+ / 0-)

    ...EurocRats in Brussels not?

    The only way out for the Eurozone is a United States of Europe, with Germans and Spanish giving up their national sovereignty in favor of European citizenship.  

    That was the plan over two decades ago, when the Extremists EurocRats in Brussels forged the Euro.  They knew that a monetary union without a fiscal one was inherently flawed.  So they bet that when an economic crisis forced their hand, the residents of Germany and Italy would feel so "European" that they would not mind giving up the nation state.

    They were wrong.  But that hasn't stopped the EurocRats from attempting to undemocratically impose a US of Europe.

    Ironic that on the eve of the World Cup, the EurocRats in Brussels are gambling that the residents of Germany and Spain would rather cheer for a team from the US of Europe, than from their respective nation-states.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:28:16 PM PDT

  •  Changes in Europe over the past 30 years (6+ / 0-)

    My spouse is German.  We have been married over 30 years.

    When she came to visit me in Chicago in 1980 before we were married, one of the most surprising aspects of Chicago was the great diversity.

    Europe in the last thirty years is looking like the US.

    This has to be upsetting a whole of people and you are seeing that with Le Pen and UKIP.

    Although the neo-Fascists did win one seat in Germany, there is not yet in Germany the kind of statements that you heard from Le Pen by major political figures.

    On late Friday night, there is a comedy show done by someone with Turkish heritage.  He was making fun of that background and how he is viewed by others.  

    We in the US have had to confront new immigrants ever since out country was founded.  This is something new for most European countries.

    (Just an observation.  My sister-in-law loves the German equivalent of  Dancing with the Stars.  Of the five major figures (three judges and two commentators), only one is a native speaker of German.  One commentator is Dutch; one judge is Cuban, another is South Africa (with clear English influence), and the third is originally Spanish (but I didn't hear that in his German).  The diversity one sees on the street is also on television.)

    [Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security] do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

    by MoDem on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:30:51 PM PDT

    •  I don't fully agree because I've been around (3+ / 0-)

      France all of my life and it always had large populations of minorities. It's legacy from the colonial era included people from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, sub-Saharan Africa, and Vietnam. There were always Roma people who were beggers. The typical concierge in an apartment building was likely Spanish or Portuguese. I have clear memories of seeing couscous being sold in the street and no one was offended by the presence of Arabs. I can remember seeing graffiti everywhere " À bas le Shah!" (down with the Shah) so there must have been Iranians around too. I think of France as a place that attracts people in the same way the US does. To have a better life.

      •  No one was offended by Arabs? (0+ / 0-)

        When was that?

        Have you read what happened to Arabs during the Algerian War in Paris?

        One person who became a friend told me (in French) that he found that Arabs smelled.

        Because of their colonial past, France, Britain, and the Netherlands was much more diverse than other countries in Europe, but my experience is that that diversity is increasing everywhere.

        [Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security] do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

        by MoDem on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 04:04:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Polarizing, anti-neo-lib result (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, PeteZerria

    according to this interesting piece:

    Just to list of few highlights of the election: in Britain the explicitly anti-European-Union UKIP won the most votes. It was the first time in over a hundred years that one of the established parties did not win a national election. In France, another vehemently anti-EU party, the far right Front National trounced the mainstream parties. In Spain, for the first time since the return of democracy the two dominant parties together did not even secure half the votes, falling form 80 percent at the last European elections. Podemos, a party created just a few months before the election with the political goal “to stop Spain being a colony of Germany and the Troika” attained almost ten percent. In Greece, the leftist Syriza party, which has promised to revoke the bailout plan of the Troika, was the most successful party with over a quarter of the votes. Finally, in Portugal, the party responsible for the Troika’s austerity programme lost a third of its votes, being overwhelmed by the Socialists.
    •  Thanks - the linked article is accurate and it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, PeteZerria

      covers a lot.

      The Front National didn't pick up more votes in this election. The Socialists and the center-right UMP voters are extremely disillusioned and they didn't vote. The center UDI looked strong by comparison while the Leftist Front and the Greens maintained their usual share. It shows what low turnout can do.

      In 2012, voters soundly rejected the neo-lib policies they had under Sarkozy from 2007-2012.  Then they realized that the EU sets targets for fiscal policy as a condition for the ECB to fund the government debt. For a lot of ordinary people it came as a cold slap in the face to learn that it really makes no difference who or what the voters choose. Before that, it made no difference whether fiscal policy came from the EU or Sarkozy. It was all the same.

      As a leader, it made Hollande look like he made promises he must have known he couldn't deliver. He was elected 2 years ago. 6 months later people were already saying they were going to vote for the FN in this election just to get France out of the EU, reinstate a national currency and conduct their own monetary policy. Perhaps the public will learn next that the 24 FN bumps they elected have no way of delivering on that either. They're like the tea party freshmen elected in 2010. They have no idea how anything works and they'll be lucky just to find their way to Brussels.

      •  I thought it was a bit harsh (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark Lippman

        on Germany as the Spirit of Austerity. Germany certainly didn't practice austerity, nor can they do well with impoverished neighbors, since they rely on exports, mostly to other EU nations.  Certainly the captured German Leadership is dancing to the tune of their banks, which want to squeeze every last drop of blood from the stone they stole, but that seems to be a universal condition.

        •  I'm so used to hearing the "what people say" about (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          austerity that it goes in one ear, out the other. I'm almost at the threshold where I might say the word needs a moratorium because it no longer has a meaning. When the topic is complex economic problems, clear understanding and precise language are needed. Instead we have a blurry haze and words loaded with subjective meaning.

          The French aren't griping about Germany imposing austerity on them and they haven't suffered under austerity like Spain and Greece. I should have said, they understand they would have had neo-lib policies under Sarkozy, with or without the EU. They didn't fully appreciate they'd still have neo-lib policies under the Socialists. The complaint is loss of sovereignty. Le Pen feeds that.

          The EU Troika, not Germany, is responsible for targets assigned to countries with 'excessive debt' and setting and tracking fiscal policy and imposing fines for non-compliance.

  •  Results still shocking for in-country implications (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marsanges, Mark Lippman

    I was in Europe at the time of the elections. The coverage that I saw there seemed to stress what the results showed about the strength of the far-right-wing (and anti-EU, anti-immigrationist, fiercely nationalist) parties within France, Britain, and some of the other countries. For that, the complicated rules within the European Parliament itself aren't as significant. And as Le Pen's party showed, whether you are in a coalition and get EU funding may be less significant if your real goal is power to shape policy within your own country.

    From what I heard (in the Balkans), countries outside the EU are clamoring to get in -- but those inside it are wondering whether the trade-offs are worth it, and whether the EU itself will endure or fall apart. There was particular resentment of Germany and France's heavy hand in rules restricting both industry and agriculture everywhere else in Europe, to benefit their domestic producers.

    •  Three choices: (0+ / 0-)

      1.  Join the European Union.    

      2.  Join the Eurasian Economic Union, dominated by Russia.  This has little appeal to countries that endured Soviet domination within the Warsaw Pact where the language of that domination was Russian.  

      3.  Stay outside both and face economic discrimination against any of your exports that can compete against local interests.  

      The European Union is probably the least bad option, especially since joining the Euro is optional.  The UK and Poland, for example, use national currencies but their citizens and products travel freely across national borders.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 08:48:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What I'm saying is that the far-right won't be (0+ / 0-)

      able to make a difference or change anything and as a possible outcome of that, they will eventually have the same scorn that the mainstream parties are getting now.
      Part of the reason why the far-right will be frustrated is in the Parliamentary rules and in their unwillingness to observe the norms of democracy, like working with others in a coalition when you're a minority, to leverage power.  There are all sorts of outcomes. In France, public opinion reacts swiftly and decisively. There's no one in politics, left, right, or center, from any party, who has a favorable rating of 40%. There are very few over 30%.

  •  UKIP nationalist not fascist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    I think the diarist is failing to draw sufficient distinction between a democratic, albeit nationalist, party like UKIP and the non-democratic fascist right. UKIP has gone to some trouble to differentiate itself from far right groups like the British National Party (which really is fascist).

    It would be very counterproductive for UKIPs position in British politics, to associate themselves with the French National Front.

    It seems that UKIP is currently trying to attract traditional white working class Labour voters. We will have to see what happens to the Labour vote in the Newark by-election today. There does seem to be a disconnect between ideological Labour supporters, who may be willing to reluctantly vote Conservative to keep UKIP out and less political voters who might support UKIP to defeat the Tories. Either way there is a significant 20% or so Labour vote in Newark. If it does not turn out for Labour, how it splits between UKIP and the Conservatives may be an important pointer to next years general election.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:23:57 AM PDT

    •  In this piece, the point isn't to categorize UKIP (0+ / 0-)

      or any of the dozens of far-right political parties elsewhere.  They define themselves.

      Even the European Parliament leaves them in an undefined category until they choose a political group. The press erroneously, and perhaps intentionally, reported that the whole lot were far-rightwing. That's the point.

  •  Your Blinders Are Rather Stunning - - (0+ / 0-)

    As you desperately try to create some sort of victorious left narrative out of these results.

    I recall you recently equating Melenchon's Left Front with Marine's Le Pen's Front National.  The Left Front got 6% and the Front National got 24% - 4X what the left got.

    Or to look at trends over time - both the LF and the FN got about 6% in 2009, but the FN quadrupled their vote while the LF sagged a bit. And although the FN has had ups and downs, it was in the low single digits in the 1980s while the parties that constitute the LF amassed 15% or more of the vote.

    Then there are the UKIP, the Danish Popular Party, the Sweden Democrats, True Finns, and Austria's Freedom Party - all of which had huge increases in their share of the vote. Not to mention that Germany's ultra-right-wing NPD gained its first seat in the Euro Parliament.

    I don't know what you are looking at - but it is certainly not what I am seeing.

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