Orbán And Le Pen Form New Far-Right Group ‘Patriots For Europe’

A new far-right group, the Patriots for Europe, was formed in the European Parliament on Monday (8 July) after swallowing their predecessor, Identity and Democracy (ID), and unifying enough lawmakers on the right and far-right side to become the third-largest group.

The intention to form a group of “patriotic and sovereigntist parties” – keen to boost the role of national governments and decrease that of Brussels – was made public on 30 June by Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán, the Austrian far-right FPÖ, and ANO, the erstwhile liberal party of former Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš.

The negotiations about the new group took about a week and were finalised on Monday, also marking the end of the ID group.

The new group, made of 13 national parties, aims to return more sovereignty to the EU states and push for stricter measures against illegal migration.

“We want to reshape the European Union, we want to ensure that asylum is not abused and we want peace on our doorstep”, Harald Vilimsky (Austria’s FPÖ) said during the press conference.

In the manifesto signed by the three founding parties, it also spoke against the EU’s Green Deal, while on the matter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it stated strong commitment to peace and dialogue.

Jean-Paul Garraud, who represented the French delegation at the inaugural press conference, declared that the group would work “against the hegemony of the European Commission and the majority of the European Parliament, which has now been shaken”, alluding to the fact that the self-styled group is now the third largest with 84 MEPs.

“These 84 Members are just the first layer, there will be more, many want to be counterweight to the EU madness”, Vilimsky added.

The fact that Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National joined Orbán in this new group has sealed the fate of her own group, the ID. Her protégé and failed candidate for French prime minister, Jordan Bardella, was elected president of the Patriot group.

Andrej Babiš, leader of ANO, expects further expansion of the group, as well. “Many MEPs from the EPP or the ECR share our view on illegal migration,” he said during a separate press conference hold in Czechia.

ANO has been criticized for aligning itself with parties with openly pro-Russian stances. However, according to Karel Havlíček, the vice-president of ANO movement, the party wasn’t looking for allies who would have the same view of Russia. “We were looking for allies who would share the same view of the functioning of the Union.”

ANO’s opinion on the conflict in Ukraine, including criticism of Russian aggression, has not changed, he added. He condemned today’s air strike on Ukraine, which targeted, among other things, a children’s hospital.

A rapid expansion
Last week, multiple ID parties expressed their intention to join the Patriots, making it obvious that ID will probably not have enough national delegations to continue as a group in the European Parliament.

Initially, the Patriots for Europe declaration was signed by Orbán, whose own Fidesz party spent most of the last legislature as an independent after leaving the European People’s Party in 2021; Austria’s FPÖ, a former member of the ID group; and the Czech ANO, which quit the liberal Renew group on 21 June.

While the three parties alone fulfilled the requirement to gather more than 23 lawmakers to form a new group, they needed at least seven different national delegations to complete the picture.

Shortly after the announcement, the Portuguese Chega! declared their intention to work leave ID and work with the new formation.

On Friday, the Patriots were joined by Spain’s Vox, who switched from the hard-right ECR, and the far-right Dutch PVV of Geert Wilders (ID), followed by the Danish Peoples Party and Vlaams Belang from Belgium, both formerly members of the ID group as well.

Marine Le Pen and her Rassemblement national, the leading party in the ID group, waited until after the French general election ended on 7 July to announce their decision to follow suit.

The rebranding of the ID group, now under the shared leadership of Orbán and Le Pen, aims to convey the intention to rally far-right parties with government expertise or a serious potential to govern.

Some small parties, such as the newly founded Greek ultranationalist Voice of Reason, which is not represented in the Greek parliament, have also found its place in the new group. The other example is Czech’s controversial Oath and Motorists coalition. This new coalition has secured itself two mandates during the elections and has been on a hunt for a political group ever since.

The German far-right AfD, which was excluded by the ID group shortly before the EU elections, will not be part of this alliance. There is still a possibility that the party will try to form its own group at some point this week.

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