Viktoria Shestoperova, Brussels, for EuroPravda
On Tuesday, July 1st, the new EU Parliament will officially begin its work. In 2014 the representative government body of the European Union will receive a new characteristic which until now seemed impossible: a record number of right-wing radicals have come to the EU Parliament.
As such, the majority was elected in the countries of “old Europe.”
But this is not the main reason for surprise. The right-wing that came to the European Parliament are becoming the Kremlin’s main ally in the European government.
This looks especially paradoxical if we remember that Russia calls Ukrainian right-wing radicals “Benderites” and uses them as an excuse for armed conflict on Ukrainian territory.
However, there is nothing surprising here, as the Kremlin and European radicals have similar goals. The European right-wing parties do not hide that their goal is to split the EU from the inside.
However we cannot talk about the unconditional success of the right-wing as of today.
Though Moscow’s allies managed to significantly increase their presence in the new European Parliament, they were unable to form a political group, which would have given them many more instruments of influence.
As it turns out, there is no unity in the European right-wing camp. Therefore the right-wing radicals were unable to unite in the European Parliament, though the right-wing populists managed to do it.
A union against the EU
During the Cold War, the USSR’s main pillar in the “enemy” West was the left-wing.
Today numerous European right-wing politicians sing in unison with the Kremlin. Russia is “friends” with everyone who is against united Europe, and here the radicals have become its best allies. The Europhobes found the financial crisis, harsh austerity measures employed by national governments and the increase of dissatisfaction with the increase in numbers of migrants, very handy.
The consequences came quickly.
In the new EU Parliament the Europeans will have to deal with the results of the May elections which the experts have already deemed “catastrophic” for the EU.
The parties that stand for the disintegration of the European Union have become victors in the EP elections in France, a founder country of the EU, the UK and Greece. In Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany they have enforced their positions significantly.
The main victor in the new EP is the French “National Front,” lead by the charismatic Marine Le Pen. Within five years that passed since the previous elections to the European Parliament, her party has gone up from sixth to first place, having gotten one-fourth of the votes of the French.
There will be 24 representatives of the “National Front” in the new EP, while in the previous one they only had three.
Le Pen is considered to be Vladimir Putin’s first ally in the West, and she does not hide her sympathies for the Russian government at all.
The party ideology is constructed on criticism of the EU, on the ruins of which its leaders are proposing to create a Pan-European Union with Russia and Switzerland, categorically excluding the possibility of participation of the US and Turkey.
Another surprise of the elections was the result of the “UK Independence Party” – 26% of the votes. For the first time it overcame the favourites of British politics – the labour and conservative parties.
We emphasise once more: they even surpassed David Cameron’s conservatives with his moderate Euroskepticism.
Away with “half-action” – the “UK Independence Party” is not simply skeptical, it demands that the United Kingdom leave the EU! For the next five years it is to hold 24 seats in the European Parliament, which is 11 more than in the previous political season.
In Denmark the EP elections were won by the right-wing radical “People’s Party of Denmark.” However, as the country is smaller in size, its weight in the EP is somewhat more modest – the radicals got four mandates.
In Greece left-wing radicals from the party SYRIZA got first place, which also stand for the disintegration of the EU, and third place was taken by right-wing neo-fascist radicals “Golden Dawn,” which participated in the elections for the first time.
Right-wing radicals also got their own, though not numerous, seats from the Netherlands, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, Finland, Poland, Lithuania and other countries.
In general the new EU Parliament turned out to be more than one-fourth anti-European!
Vladimir Putin’s fan club
There are 25 main ultra-right-wing parties in Europe, calculated the experts of the Hungarian institute Political Capital, which investigated the influence of Russian politics on the radical right-wing. 15 of them openly support Russia, seven are “neutral” and only three are “enemies.” The latter may include the right-wing radicals from some former Soviet republics and countries of the Socialist camp, for example Romania and Latvia.
Even the radicals cannot afford to be friends with the Kremlin there – the electorate will not understand this.
What is the ideology of Putin’s fan club based on?
Some parties (frequently with a religious component) sympathise with his categorical views – the fight against homosexuality, nationalism, policies of order, state control over strategic sectors. Others are governed exclusively by their geopolitical calculations, as they view Russia as a counteragent to the US.
However the difference in the ideologies of these parties does not come down to Russia exclusively. They also have numerous contradictions in other spheres of their activity. Some want their country to leave the European Union, others want reform, the rest – simply a change in government. As a result, there will be more ultra right-wing representatives in the Parliament than ever, however this will not give them more unity.
There’s too much left to do.
The right-wing parties that got into the EP can be arbitrarily divided into three groups.
First: the right-wing union around Marine Le Pen.
After the victory at the elections, the Frenchwoman lost her streak. The head of the “National Front” was unable to create a political group (fraction) based on her “European alliance for freedom.”
The creation of the group would give guaranteed seats in committees to her representatives and access to a minimum of 20 million Euro of budget finances.
There were more than enough radical Parliament members ready to work in the EP under her leadership. 38 MP’s agreed to enrol in the radical political group with a minimum threshold of 25 people.
However, another safeguard worked, based in EP rules: the fraction has to contain representatives from at least seven countries. Marine Le Pen was missing two. The deciding factor was the refusal of the Polish “New Right” and the Lithuanian party “Order and Justice” to participate in the union.
The Lithuanians deemed it better to join a competitive group of right-wing Europhobes lead by Nigel Farage, the head of the “UK Independence Party.”
This is the second arbitrary group of right-wing representatives in the European Parliament.
Farage has been in the EP for a long time, he had already been head of the Euroskeptics in the previous EP. As opposed to Le Pen, he managed to create a fraction in the EP, which will be called the “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy.” However his alliance will not be as right-wing and as radical, as the group led by Le Pen would have been.
Farage’s key ally is the party of the Italian comic Beppe Grillo “5 Star Movement.” According to its leader, the party does not accord with the traditional understandings of the “right” and “left,” he calls it populist himself. The same with the “UK Independence Party,” which, though it declares a right-wing ideology, is trying to distance itself from the radicals. It is most frequently characterised as right-populist.
However this does not negate the pro-Russian orientation of the leader of the EFDD or the representatives of the “5 Stars.” In the former EP, Nigel Farage’s group authored numerous pro-Russian resolutions both in the political and energy sphere. Farage calls Vladimir Putin the leader he is captivated with.
Is should be noted that Farage’s groups authored the most radical formulations regarding the Ukrainian “Svoboda” party. In their versions of resolutions regarding Ukraine the group frequently calls its adherents “extremists and chauvinists.”
And, finally, the third subgroup of right-wing parties that entered the EP merits some attention.
These are the political powers that nobody wants to have anything to do with. These may include the Hungarian “Jobbik,” the Greek “Golden Dawn” and the German “National Democratic Party.” Even Marine Le Pen considered their statements to be too “fascist” to form official unions with them.
By the day, the Ukrainian “Svoboda,” until recently, was an observer in the Alliance of European National Movements founded by the infamous “Jobbik” (which stands for the accession of Zakarpattya to Hungary). However in March this year “Svoboda” stated the impossibility of continuing their participation in the union.
This happened after the Alliance publicly supported Russia’s actions against Ukraine.
Besides, the ultra-right flank, Moscow has support on the ultra-left as well. “The coalitions of the radical left” led by the head of the Greek SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras consequently insists on the necessity to maintain good relations with the Kremlin.
Tsipras is calling the new Ukrainian government fascist, and hold the EU responsive for the bloody events in Ukraine. The left and right-wing radicals stand together on this issue, traditionally trying to block the EP’s anti-Russian resolutions.
The rumours that Russia is financing individual right-wing radical parties in Europe have been known for a long time. However there has been no concrete confirmation until recently – before the scandal that exploded in Hungary in the end of May, several days before the EP elections.
The government of the country accused the representative of “Jobbik” party Belu Kovach of spying for Moscow. The Office of the Prosecutor addressed an official request to void the European MP, who was third on the list, of his integrity.
The investigators do not divulge on the details of accusations against him. The following facts are known: the politician met with Russian diplomats too frequently, once a month he would fly to Moscow and agreed to observe the Crimean referendum.
According to WikiLeaks, the Bulgarian right-wing radical party “Ataka” can also boast close ties to the Kremlin. Its representatives consequentially stand against anti-Russian sanctions, support the Kremlin “South Stream” fuel project by all means and, of course, acknowledge Crimea’s accession to Russian jurisdiction.
Investigator Sinikukka Saari from the Finnish International Relations Institute outlines several directions Russia is acting in to support the movements it necessitates.
The first is the establishment of contacts and the foundation of new political projects. Second, the creation of NGO’s. Third, support for friendly media.
Meanwhile nobody even tried to hide their closeness to Russia. For example, the Hungarian “Jobbik” and the Greek “Golden Dawn” have been invited to the Russian National Forum organised by Intelligent Design Bureau, a company considered close to Vladimir Putin. The event will happen on October 4-5th in St. Petersburg and will gather about 1500 Parliament members. The main issue on the agenda will be the formation of a new national doctrine for Russia and Europe.
The Ukrainian issue
Logically, the European nationalists support Russia in both its anti-European and anti-Ukrainian goals.
“I think we can be good partners for Russia in the European Parliament, and the RF considers us a potential partner,” stated the representative of the Belgian “Flemish Interest” Filip Dewinter recently.
The pro-Russian (and anti-European) parties so far don’t control all the votes in the EP. However they are able to take advantage of the instances when key pro-European groups (the European People’s Party, the social democrats) differ in their opinion and are forced to look for new allies.
The right-wing nationalists support the RF not only in EU institutions, but beyond them as well. Especially dedicated adherents were not even scared of coming to occupied Crimea to be “observers.” Soon their presence would enable the Kremlin to speak of the honesty and transparency of the referendum – “there were even European representatives” there.
Moscow-friendly media published a photo with the so-called “EU representatives.” They were sent by Hungarian “Jobbik,” French “National Front,” Bulgarian “Ataka,” Austrian “Freedom Party,” Belgian “Flemish Interest,” Italian “Northern League” and some very left-wing parties. The leader of “National Front” Marine Le Pen has stated numerous times that “Crimea is historically Russian territory.”
Now that the new European Parliament has started its work, Russia gets the opportunity to reiterate that its policies in the Ukrainian issue has support in Europe. And thanks to the ultra-right-wing, these words now have some truth to them.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina