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Thursday 28 August 2014

France's Le Pen seeking EU allies

Published 28/05/2014 | 16:57

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Marine Le Pen, second right, with Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, right, Harald Vilimsky of Austria's Freedom Party, second left, and Matteo Salvini of Italy's Lega Nord (AP)

French National Front leader Marine Le Pen is struggling to get enough international support for a fully-fledged parliamentary group in the European Parliament.

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Le Pen has secured initial backing from representatives of right-wing parties in four other EU nations: The Dutch PVV of Geert Wilders, the Austrian FPO, Italy's Northern League, and Belgium's Flemish Interest.

But to form a parliamentary group, a step that would guarantee more speaking time and financial support, representatives from two more countries must join with the National Front.

There were unprecedented victories gained by the far right in last week's European Union elections.

Though united by the aversion to all things EU, far-right parties like Le Pen's also want to have a strong voice in the European legislature - if only as a pulpit to complain about topics like EU economic and immigration policies and the usurpation of national sovereignty from member states.

"We will try to stop any new advance of the EU," Le Pen said.

Le Pen is still two parties short, and support isn't assured. The other big Eurosceptic election winner, Nigel Farage of Ukip, already belongs to a parliamentary group and has ruled out an alliance with the National Front.

"That isn't going to happen," Farage has told the media.

But Le Pen was confident other allies would materialise.

"Look at the smiling faces in front of you and understand that we have absolutely no worries," she told reporters.

Le Pen's party came out on top in France in Sunday's election and will be sending France's largest contingent to the European Parliament with 24 politicians.

The National Front advocates the collapse of the 28-nation EU, and its unprecedentedly strong showing sent shockwaves across Europe. Opponents said they would stage a protest near the parliament building at the same time Le Pen was to meet with reporters.

Press Association

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