Discussion of potential alliance in EU parliamentThursday, May 29, 2014
Anti-Euro Ukip, 5-star heads meet
BRUSSELS — Nigel Farage, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader, met with Beppe Grillo, who heads Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, yesterday in Brussels to discuss a potential alliance between Eurosceptic parties in the European Parliament.
Both groups performed strongly in last weekend’s European Parliament vote, with UKIP topping all rivals in Britain and 5-Star coming in second to the ruling Democratic Party.
Farage and Grillo agreed on the importance of direct democracy in Europe and that the parties in a potential new group should be able to campaign and vote as they choose within a framework of basic agreements, UKIP said in a statement.
The possibility of 5-Star joining an alliance with another political party — albeit in Brussels — is something of a novelty. In Italy, Grillo has refused to negotiate with political parties in Parliament, where 5-Star is a member of the opposition, saying they lack credibility.
“If this works out it would be magnificent to see a swelling in the ranks of the Peoples’ Army. If we can come to an agreement, we could have fun causing a lot of trouble for Brussels,” the statement quoted Farage as saying.
It quoted Grillo as saying, “we are Rebels with a Cause, and we shall whistle as we march.”
Anti-establishment parties across the continent more than doubled their representation in the election, tapping into voters’ anger with Brussels over austerity, mass unemployment and immigration.
UKIP wants Britain to withdraw from the European Union, arguing that the country will be more democratic and prosperous outside it. Italy’s 5-Star wants a referendum over Italy’s membership of the euro, which Grillo says is ruining the economy.
Separately, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen struggled to find enough kindred spirits in the European Parliament to take her anti-EU campaign to the next level. Le Pen, whose party won more seats in the European Parliament on Sunday than any other in France is now trying to form a full-fledged parliamentary group: a step that would guarantee more speaking time at the rostrum and greater financial support.
By yesterday afternoon, she had secured the backing of right-wing parties from four other EU nations: The Party of Freedom in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party of Austria, Italy’s Northern League and Belgium’s Flemish Interest. Under European Parliament rules, however, seven countries must be represented in a group.
Herald with Reuters, AP