The far right actually dreams of power

The far right actually dreams of power

Maximilian Krah, leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the European elections, shared an insight into the SS last week. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Republic He said that for him, members of that paramilitary organization affiliated with the German Nazi Party “are not automatically criminals.” He referred to the SS membership of writer and Nobel laureate Günter Grass, and added that “among the 900,000 SS men, there were also many farmers.”

That was enough for his European friends on the far right. This week, the AfD, led by Marine Le Pen’s French National Rally, was expelled from the Identity and Democracy Party, one of two far-right groups in the European Parliament. “The Identity Group no longer wants to be associated with the incidents surrounding Maximilian Krah,” she added.

At first glance, this is the European radical right to the core. Mutual quarrels, fragmentation and uproar at regular intervals over controversial statements. The radical right is already divided in the European Parliament, because in addition to the Identity Party there are also the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), to which the JA21, the SGP and the Giorgia Meloni Fratelli d’Italia belong. With the forced departure of the AfD, the seats were further divided after the elections.

Laughs at PVV

The far right may be divided, but both the ID and ECR parties are on track to win the elections starting on June 6. People are eagerly awaiting the eight or nine seats that will be voted on for the Freedom Party, which has been affiliated with the Identity Party for years, but now does not have a single seat.

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Overlooking the SS is not part of that. Krahe and the AfD were already on a collision course with the rest of the group. In January, it emerged that AfD politicians had attended a meeting with right-wing extremists where a “remigration plan” that would include deporting millions of people to an African country was discussed. Krah himself was criticized when he and one of his close aides appeared in an investigation into espionage and receiving bribes.

Banning the party from Europe’s ranks is consistent with, and even convenient for, other identity politicians trying to clean up their act. The more the AfD breaks out of the system, the more the National Identity faction can present itself as a reasonable alternative.

The identity people at ECR argue that this actually brings access to power closer. This rival bloc has gained a great deal of influence in a short time, thanks to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Many parties from this group, such as Spain’s Vox and the Sweden Democrats, were long considered too toxic to work with at the national level and in Brussels. Moreover, in many cases they were so critical of the EU that they had little interest in cooperation.

But this tide is beginning to change. One by one, Eurosceptic parties see that there is something to gain in Brussels: by restricting themselves in a number of areas, they can exert their influence elsewhere. Melonie quickly discovered this. Rather, it plays a leading role in shaping new immigration policy.

guidance

Conversely, the ban on cooperation with the far right is disappearing in more and more center-right parties. In many European capitals, the door is at least slightly open to the far right as a coalition partner, and relations in Brussels are also strengthening.

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The European Christian Democrats have a practical reason to move further to the right. Without support from this side, the current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, sees her chances of a new presidency diminishing. In order to promote this attempt at rapprochement, it tries to emphasize as much as possible the differences between the European Council (an excellent partner) and the identity parties (very toxic).

“She is clearly pro-European, anti-Putin, and she is very clear about that, and the rule of law,” von der Leyen said of Meloni on Thursday in a debate among European party leaders. “If that remains the case, we will offer to work together.” On the same day, even after the AfD was expelled, she described the entire Identity faction in a message on X as “Putin’s pawns trampling on our values.”

Von der Leyen angered other European parties by reaching out to the European Commission. In recent months, they jointly signed a declaration of non-cooperation with the far right at the European level. But there are also clear cracks, as with the Liberal Renewal group. There is a major struggle going on between the VVD and PVV in The Hague.

Several Renewal leaders this week called for the VVD’s departure from Renewal. But the question is whether the majority of members want this. The liberal group will then lose valuable seats. Furthermore, the Swedish Center Party, also a member of the Renewal Party, has been working together for a year and a half in building tolerance with the Sweden Democrats, who belong to the European Council of Reformists. This remained without consequence all this time.

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Power thinking

The changing relations after the elections are expected to shake the foundations of Brussels. Sometimes the two blocks are still facing each other. For example, a major battle is expected to erupt in the coming weeks for Viktor Orbán, whose Fidesz party was expelled from the Christian Democratic group a few years ago and has yet to find a new home. Orban faces difficulty in dealing with part of the far-right wing because of his pro-Russian stance. At the same time, he gained great status as head of government. He has fans in both ID and ECR.

Ultimately, both blocs are seeing their influence grow. The merger between ID and ECR seems like a bridge too far, but the differences between the members are not significant. It is no coincidence that they both want to take a photo with Orbán.

In this way, the far right, which has always resisted European intervention, dreams of making its way to power in Brussels. If it is clear that we will soon be forced to cooperate with the far right, the first politicians from the center right are now asking: Why wait now?



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