At a news conference in Milan today, LEGA (ENF) leader Matteo Salvini announced the formation of a new right-wing populist alliance for the post-election European Parliament. The group would be called the European Alliance for People and Nations (EAPN) and would draw its members from ENF, EFDD, and ECR to involve at least 10 parties from as many nations. At the announcement, Salvini was joined by representatives of Alternative for Germany (AfD-EFDD), Finns Party (PS-ECR), and the Danish People’s Party (O-ECR).
The stated goal of the new group is to challenge the power of the governing bloc, with all parties involved favoring tighter immigration and border policies, and subscribing to varying levels of Euroscepticism in favor of greater national independence. While on other issues, especially economic, the players may disagree, such a group would certainly give all involved a stronger voice in the European Parliament.
It can be fairly safely assumed that all current ENF members would join the new group, their goals overlapping quite nicely and major players such as France’s RN (ENF) and Spain’s VOX (ECR) having previously stated their intention to join a Salvini-lead effort.
Europe Elects currently projects ENF at 62 seats in the next European Parliament (assuming a 705 seat post-Brexit Parliament). A quick look at the median results in our projection for the other partners in this group offers a first insight into what the new group’s numbers could look like. It’s worth noting that the median results can’t substitute for running our full projection but, considering the speculative nature of this calculation, some back-of-the-napkin math should be good enough to get a general view of the situation.
As a baseline, assuming again that all of current ENF, EAPN can be projected to receive somewhere in the region of 84 seats (notwithstanding the introduction of new surprise partners). Such a scenario would place EAPN as the fourth largest group in the new Parliament, and potentially place them in competition with ALDE for third place.
The formation of EAPN would likely also lead to the dissolution of EFDD, already teetering on the edge before the loss of AfD, and the decimation of ECR. This would leave large parties like Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S-EFDD) and Poland’s PiS-ECR at large, and able to potentially change the balance of the new parliament. Most recently, M5S has distanced itself from LEGA and its far-right partners on a European level, preferring to campaign and search for partners in the centre-ground. In the past however, M5S has gone from seeking to join the liberals then the greens in the European Parliament, to joining the Eurosceptic populists in EFDD, and from seeking an alliance nationally with the center-left PD (S&D) to governing with right-wing LEGA (ENF).
The current position of Polish PiS remains more unclear, as without the British Conservatives or VOX, remaining in ECR would leave them partnered only with considerably smaller parties. On the other hand, PiS have been wary of joining LEGA and others holding pro-Russia positions. The median result of 20 seats that Europe Elects projects for PiS would be a boon to EAPN and another step towards overtaking ALDE’s 105 seats.
The formation of EAPN likely won’t significantly tip the balance of power in the European Parliament, as the governing bloc of EPP, S&D, and ALDE maintains a strong majority and EAPN doesn’t draw from their ranks, but it is certainly another step in the rising relevance of right-wing, populist, and anti-immigration parties in European politics.
Alex runs the Europe Elects website, and is a specialist in Italian politics.
Cover image c/o Presidenza della Repubblica