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EU's radical right wing could fragment further as parties negotiate new groupings

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, two of the main faces of the radical right in Europe
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, two of the main faces of the radical right in Europe Copyright Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2024
Copyright Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2024
By Vincenzo GenoveseMared Gwyn Jones
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This article was originally published in Italian

Two new groups could emerge from the ongoing post-election negotiations.

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Europe's radical right wing could emerge more fragmented from crunch negotiations on how they will club together in Brussels, following elections which saw right-wing forces make gains in several EU countries.

While the European Parliament's right wing is already split into two existing factions - the hard-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the more radical Identity and Democracy (ID) - sources tell Euronews there are two new formations potentially in the making, meaning the hemicycle's right wing could splinter even further.

The ECR, which harbours Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy (FdI), emerged strengthened from June's election, securing 83 MEPs and overtaking the liberal Renew Europe to become the European Parliament's third biggest political force.

But the group's constitutive meeting was initially postponed and then cancelled entirely on Wednesday after members of the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) - the second biggest party in the group - failed to turn up in sufficient numbers, signalling divisions on the party's future direction.

The group is expected to reconvene on 3 July.

Identity and Democracy meanwhile has said it isopen to the formation of a hard-right 'supergroup' that could see the two factions merge in order to wield greater political influence in Brussels.

Parties elected to the European Parliament can choose to sit within a parliamentary group or as non-attached members. Parties hoping to form a new group must bring together at least 23 lawmakers representing a minimum of seven EU member states.

While this can prove a tough bar to reach, group membership comes with the perks of being able to hire staff and carry out operations using parliamentary funds.

With several parties of a right-wing ideology elected to the European Parliament for the first time in June's election, and others looking for a new political home, a significant reshuffle of the groups is not off the cards.

Two new groups in the making?

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) was kicked out of the ID group in May following a raft of scandals, leaving the party's 15 newly-elected MEPs politically homeless in the European Parliament.

As first reported by Der Spiegel, AfD is now pushing to form a new parliamentary group called "The Sovereignists" which could include Poland's Konfederacja (21 seats) along with smaller parties such as Spain's The Party's Over (3 seats) and Romania's SOS (2 MEPs).

They could also rely on the two Slovak lawmakers of Hnutie Republika, the Greek MEP of Nikè and the Hungarian MEP of Mi Hazánk to reach the necessary threshold.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is also in talks to form a group of his own, a Fidesz source told Euronews. Orbán is testing appetite to form a family of nationalist, populist parties from Eastern Europe, which could harbour Orbán's Fidesz, Slovak premier Robert Fico's Smer party, as well as the Czech ANO party, which exited Renew Europe in a move that saw the liberals shed seven seats and lose its kingmaker status.

While these parties don't have much in common when it comes to economic policy, they share a nationalist agenda and are considered populist in their political methods.

Fidesz sources had previously expressed preference to join the same group as Marine Le Pen's National Rally (RN), which currently belongs to ID and which won a staggering 31% of the French vote in June's ballot, prompting President Emmanuel Macron to call snap legislative elections.

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Orbán had also signalled interest in joining Meloni's ECR family, but Fidesz's parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis said in a statement last Wednesday that the option was no longer on the table after ECR welcomed Romania's Hungary-sceptic AUR party.

With 11 lawmakers elected for the next mandate, it gives Orbán and Fidesz power to bargain with other smaller factions currently without a group.

Another factor that makes a reshuffle likely is EU right-wing parties' divisions on the war in Ukraine and the EU's role in propping up Kyiv's government and military continues to sow deep divisions.

It means parties keen to purge themselves of historic Russian ties in a bid to move into the political mainstream are reluctant to join others sympathetic to Putin.

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But these parties still share common ground when it comes to a hard-line stance on migration, scepticism towards Green policies and their opposition to further EU integration that could undermine the power of nation states, meaning they could still choose to vote together on future EU laws.

ECR looks to hold onto third-place position

Sources familiar with the talks consulted by Euronews said that the group's constitutive meeting was cancelled on Wednesday due to ongoing discussions between the group's two main delegations, Fratelli d'Italia with 24 MEPs and the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) with 20.

The main political impasse concerns the presidency of the European Commission, which according to the provisional agreement negotiated between the three mainstream political families, will be granted to Ursula von der Leyen for a second term.

If rubber-stamped by EU leaders, that decision is due to go to a vote in the European Parliament in mid-July.

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Giorgia Meloni's Italian lawmakers could support von der Leyen, perhaps in exchange for a vice-presidency of the Commission or a significant portfolio for the future Italian commissioner, the sources said. Law and Justice (PiS), on the other hand, firmly opposes von der Leyen.

More generally, ECR seems to be grappling with a dilemma in view of the next legislature: whether or not to increase cooperation with the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) of von der Leyen, or maintain the more radical positions typical of the hard right.

While some delegations are clearly in favour of closer ties with the centre-right, such as Meloni's Brothers of Italy and the Sweden Democrats, PiS is reportedly still discussing internally the line it will take.

According to a parliamentary source, it is not excluded that the Polish party will leave the group.

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