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EU in chaos as Le Pen's triumph turns Italy's far-right leader into kingmaker

The huge gain made by Marine Le Pen’s far-right party National Rally (RN) at the European elections has sent shockwaves through France and Europe.

The party’s surge may be linked to its leaders’ attempts to soften some of RN’s stances, particularly on extremism, Russia and leaving the eurozone.

In late May, Ms Le Pen distanced her movement from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party after its candidate Maximillan Krah claimed that not every member of the SS was “automatically a criminal”. On Monday, hours after the elections, newly appointed AfD MEPs voted against including Mr Krah in their delegation in the European Parliament.

With the expulsion of AfD from the ID, the group in the European Parliament including RN, Ms Le Pen’s party is seeking new alliances.

But Ursula Von der Leyen, who will need the support of newly-elected 361 MEPs to be confirmed as European Commission President if EU leaders nominate her for a second term, continues to see the RN as too extremist to cooperate with it.

She previously said: “The European Parliament will form groups after the elections, which is why it is important to establish clear principles with whom we want to work.”

Speaking about three red lines, she continued: “To be pro-European, pro-Ukraine—and therefore anti-Putin—and pro-rule-of-law.

“Rassemblement National, AfD and Konfederacja have different names but one thing in common: they are friends of Putin and want to destroy Europe.”

Ms Le Pen’s party has tried to fend off allegations of being too soft on the Kremlin, with RN President Jordan Bardella branding Russia a “threat to our security and our sovereignty”.

However, a member of the RN’s European list, Thierry Mariani, claimed in the run-up to the elections that Russia isn’t a threat to France and Europe.

Mr Bardella justified this position to the Parisien news outlet saying his party is “not a sect”, so members are allowed to have their own views but he is the one setting the line to follow.

Lack of clarity on how harsh the anti-Russia line taken by the RN is came ahead of the events in Normandy marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day, to which the Russian President was not invited.

Then, Ms Le Pen simply said the question of whether or not Vladimir Putin should have been invited to the celebrations given the role played by Soviet Russia in defeating the Nazi regime “does not arise” given he’s the subject of an ICC arrest warrant.

While Ms Von der Leyen isn’t keen on working with Ms Le Pen’s party, another far-right female politician is being courted by the Commission President.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose party Brothers of Italy won on Sunday 14 more seats than at the previous European elections and is part of the soft eurosceptic ECR group, appears to be considered as a possible ally by Ms Von der Leyen – despite the Greens and Socialists warning they would not sanction a similar cooperation.

An alliance with the EPP could provide the ECR with major influence over policymaking and tip the scale more towards the right.

But should no alliance of this kind materialise, Ms Meloni may steer the ECR towards the ID group of which Ms Le Pen’s party is a member and create a major eurosceptic and anti-immigration alliance.

A similar collaboration could make the far-right more relevant within Brussels and throw a spanner in the works of the next Commission.


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