The Strategist

Euroskeptics unite on the threshold of elections

01/10/2019 - 13:34

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini visited Warsaw. From there, he reminded that Europe must fight the influx of illegal migrants and quickly expel those who have already entered illegally into its territory. This statement was enthusiastically supported by the Polish leadership. Mr. Salvini’s talks with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski actually commenced an election campaign of European right-wing populists preparing for the May elections to the European Parliament. Politicians have no doubt that now they have many supporters in various countries, and they are getting ready to form one of the largest factions in advance.

agenziami via flickr
agenziami via flickr
“I will never agree to accept new migrants. We must speed up the deportation process, which has already begun in Europe, ” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Italy Matteo Salvini on Wednesday, commenting on the results of a meeting with his colleague Joachim Brudziński in Warsaw. “Europe hears proposals to accept regular migrants from regular ships that are being transported by smugglers and non-governmental organizations. This is a huge problem. For example, several people from North Africa have been detained in Italy today. One of the detainees is accused of terrorism,” the minister said. He recalled that both Poland and Italy are in favor of protecting national borders from the influx of migrants and refused to sign the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration approved in December in Marrakesh by most UN countries.

Polish and Italian politicians met at the right time: in May the European Union countries will hold elections to the European Parliament.

On the eve of this visit, the leading Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that the main task of the vice-premier and leader of the right-wing populist party "Northern League” Matteo Salvini is to assure the leader of the Polish party “Law and Justice” Jaroslaw Kaczynski in readiness for cooperation in the European Parliament. According to European media, his intention is to get ready to create a new political group (analogous to factions in national parliaments) of a legal sense.

Now, there are 751 in the European Parliament. Most parliamentarians belong to one of seven international political groups. The two largest of them reflect the traditional alignment of political forces in European countries and represent alliances of conservative-center-right and center-left social democrats parties. The far right has formed its own faction after the last elections in 2009, but not all prominent right-populist parties have joined the “Europe of Freedom and Democracy” (EFD) group. At the same time, a group of “European Conservatives and Reformists” appeared, the backbone of which was the deputies of the Polish party “Law and Justice” and the British Conservatives. In 2015, part of the deputies of the Austrian Freedom Party, the French National Front and the Italian Northern League together with their colleagues, formed the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group. Now, as the Polish publication Dziennik writes, the last two groups can unite and recruit (according to the most optimistic estimates) up to 200 participants, including representatives of the Danish Popular Party, Spanish right-wing populists Vox and Austrian Freedom Party. This would make them the third or even the second largest group in the European Parliament and would allow “Law and Justice” to retain influence in the European Parliament after British parliamentarians leave it.

However, the Italian and Polish right-wing populists have serious differences. If “Law and Justice” is extremely critical of Russia, then Matteo Salvini has repeatedly expressed support for Moscow and even photographed himself on Red Square in a T-shirt with a portrait of Vladimir Putin. “You can’t simultaneously protect Europe and fraternize with its enemies,” the Polish newspaper Wyborcza wrote angrily.