25 members of the European Parliament from at least 7 different member states are needed to create a parliamentary group within the EU’s only democratically elected institution. So far, France’s National Front has been unable to meet this standard and will remain groupless.
It’s rather ironic that a movement born out of its unbending desire to destroy the European experiment is attempting to form a cohesive movement within its only democratic body. That said, coherence is hardly a strong suit of the Eurosceptics. You need only look at the cacophony emanating from France’s FN a few weeks ago to realize that this party’s actual political line is more of a misshapen, bent, and cracked route. Nonetheless, the FN, which dominated last month’s elections, has already hit its first major obstacle by failing to meet the initial deadline for group creation within the European Parliament.
The most curious aspect of this outcome is not that a group itself could not be created, but rather the deep infighting between the Eurosceptics. Following the elections, far more than 7 parties were voted into the parliament, yet they have proven hesitant to join forces with the FN. Currently, the grouping process is split into two major movements: one co-lead by France’s Marine Le Pen and the Neatherlands’ Geert Wilders. The boisterous Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) heads the other movement, who has managed to form an official group. Although both sides have stated their desires to ‘destroy the EU from within’ political considerations have prevented them from joining together.
In a fascinating turn of events, Farage has refused to join strengths with Le Pen and Wilders on accusations that those parties (particularly Le Pen) are racist and anti-Semitic. Apparently, Farage’s disparaging comments about Romanians are merely good hearted British humor compared to Le Pen. Furthermore, the FN has refused to associate itself with the Greece’s Golden Dawn and Germany’s National Democratic Party – claiming they are too racist to be associated with. Evidently, Europe’s ‘lovable’ opponents are unclear what constitutes a racist party. Beyond the obvious publicity issues that this complete incoherence generates, it is worthy to note that the FN and its allies will not be able to receive the amount of funds normally reserved for European Parliament Groups.
To be clear, it is unfair to assume that all Eurosceptics are cut from the same cloth. Indeed, their ideas are vastly different however they all share one common goal: to eliminate the European Union. Given that the purpose of the EU parliament is to set European policy, it makes sense to group these various parties together. Ultimately, the lesson to be taken from this development is that Euroscepticism is easy to sell as an idea but is far harder to implement in practice. Although I disagree with the nationalistic tendencies of these parties, I can understand their concerns. However, as is too often the case, the nationalistic argument is often bastardized and turned towards xenophobia and racial exclusion. Thus for one party to call another racist is pure politicking and is by no means anchored in any true benevolent message of inclusion.
This infighting is merely the most recent example of the ease of winning elections but the difficulty of leading. If these parties can’t even come to a conclusion amongst themselves, how are they expected to lead a country, much less a continent? Perhaps I’m reading into this too much and the unwillingness of these parties to work together is just practicing what they preach. If so, I implore all the Eurosceptics to continue these policies. I might go so far as to contribute to this debate myself: “Madame Le Pen, Mr. Farage hates the French!
Here’s to five more years of Eurosceptic tragicomedy!
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