French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen is hoping she and Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini can form a new supergroup of MEPs after European Parliamentary elections in May.
Le Pen told Euronews that Salvini had been given the mission to recruit parties from rival blocks.
“We asked Matteo Salvini to be the one to go round the European capitals a little, to try to find new allies,” the President of the Rassemblement National said. “We ourselves will increase our numbers, that's certain, but of course we want to expand. And I’m not hiding it, we’ve a much bigger ambition, or dream at any rate, to build a very big group composed of all those who want to protect nations. We could have a large part of the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists), maybe the EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) and the ENL (Europe of Nations and Freedom). That’s something that would be really quite interesting.”
Le Pen denied that forming alliances with parties such as Vox in Spain was destructive of European values. Vox has drawn criticism for proposing to amend legislation designed to protect women from violence.
“I think it's up to the Spanish people to decide for themselves,” she said. “And if Vox scores a spectacular electoral success, it’s probably because what they talk about corresponds to the concerns of the Spanish people. I don’t interfere in Spanish affairs, and that, I think, is the problem with the European Union, which at the end of the day wants to impose a unique model on countries that - I’m sorry to have to remind you - are different, have a different culture, have a different story. We certainly have a common European culture, but we all have our own traits, our own identity, sometimes even an economic identity, points of strength, points of weakness. And thank goodness for that, because we say ‘United in diversity’, but tell me, where is the diversity today in a European Union that wants everyone eating from the same trough?”
The French leader said her target for May’s parliamentary elections is to come top in France. In 2014 her party got 25% of the vote.
“The French political situation is a little different now - there’s an extra party - En Marche. But more than anything, what I want is to finish first, for two reasons. First, obviously, for a European reason. I want us to be part of a very large group that defends nations and opposes this European Union that we believe has failed and is bankrupt. But also for a national reason. I think it’s absolutely essential that Emmanuel Macron is beaten in what are sort of ‘midterms’, so that a message is sent that he can’t continue the second part of his mandate like he started the first.”