European parliamentarians announced the creation of a new alliance of euroskeptic national parties within the European Parliament on Thursday, replacing the now former Europe of Nations and Freedom group.
"Identity and Democracy (ID)," as it's now called, sees support from most of the European Union's nationalistic national parties, including members of the European Parliament from Austria and Belgium (3), Finland and the Czech Republic (2), Estonia and Denmark, (1), and most crucially, Germany with 11, French with 22 and Italy with 28, making up a total of 73 parliamentarians amongst 751 seats.The nationalists' predecessor group, which was created in 2015, was the smallest European party with just 36 seats, however now with 73, and by putting behind many squabbles, Europe's anti-establishment right finds itself to be the fifth largest alliance in the European Parliament, just behind the also newly-surging Greens, who secured 75 seats.
The biggest losers of last month's EU election were the center-right and center-left establishmentarian parties not just on the national but also the European level. Nationalists continued to make gains in several member-states.
"We have changed the political chessboard of the European Union," Marine Le Pen of France's National Rally said in a press conference announcing the creation of ID next to her Italian, German and other allies in Brussels. "We are still a minority but we are a larger minority than ever before," the Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho added. Euroskeptic parties such as France's National Rally (formerly National Front), Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Italy's League, have in the past encountered impassable difficulties in forging a political alliance, however the creation of ID sees them united and ready to push their criticisms on the EU even further. The faces and policies of Identity and Democracy are not new, and have been enjoying the public spotlight for several years now, however their willingness to work together paid off significantly.
"We have received millions of votes and we've come here together to announced the founding of this group, and that's because we've done a lot of upstream work; It's important, the fact that we are together, and we do know where we want to go," Le Pen told a reporter. "We have a strong feeling that we are different countries, and on different subjects there can be very different feelings, different opinions; we have different cultures and traditions. We know all of that… but on the big subjects that interest Europe's peoples today we have a common vision." "We are perhaps the most politically-coherent group that you will find in the European Parliament today." Le Pen concluded. As the more traditional parties such as the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party in Germany, the Conservatives and Labour in Britain continue to bleed popular support, the fringes of the political spectrum, such as the very socially-liberal greens or the anti-mass immigration and euroskeptic nationalists made gains which have only worried political leaders in national capitals and the seats of power in the EU alike. An issue that was brought up by reporters was the question of what ID's stance against Moscow would be, having in mind its actions in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, and whether they would support continued sanctions against Russia.
"To say it clearly, no, we don't see any sense in the prolongation of sanctions against Russia," answered Jörg Meuthen of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). "The situation we have in Crimea won't change anymore because of sanctions, so, we can do it for decades, it's won't change anything; it's better to act in a pragmatic way, to have good cooperation to Russia, as to every other country as well," Meuthen concluded.
One of the biggest criticisms against the European Parliament is that while its members are directly elected by voters, and that while it has some legislative powers, it possess absolute none legislative initiative, meaning that parliamentarians as individuals or as groups are not eligible to propose new legislation. That responsibility has instead been rested on the shoulders of the European Commission, a body which is unelected, but its members instead appointed by the European Council. This system has drawn particular criticism not just from nationalist but also far-left elements throughout the EU, calling it an un-democratic, un-elected executive. Another big issue for all the parliamentarians in ID remains the concern of Eurocrats openly calling for the creation of a "European superstate" by the backdoor; European political union is indeed an issue that voters have not been probed about ever in the bloc's history, as many haven't many other of its policies, both domestic and foreign, such as the creation of a pan-European military.
This, and many more issues, such as mass immigration, the creation of parallel societies in the continent's biggest cities such as London and Paris as a result of failed integration policies and the collapse of multiculturalism, Europe's stance in relation to China, Russia and the US, were and are the concerns of every Briton who voted to exit the EU.
"Things must change, the voters demand it," Le Pen said in Brussels. "The times of hidden maneuvers behind the backs of the people are over."