European elections May 21, 2019 7:53:08 GMT -7
Post by pieter on May 21, 2019 7:53:08 GMT -7
European far-right populists rally with Matteo Salvini in Milan
From left, Geert Wilders, leader of Dutch Party for Freedom, Matteo Salvini, Jörg Meuthen, leader of Alternative For Germany party, Marine Le Pen, Leader of the French Rassemblement national, Vaselin Marehki leader of Bulgarian 'Volya' party, Jaak Madison of Estonian Conservative People's Party, and Tomio Okamura leader of Czech far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy, attend a rally organized by League leader Matteo Salvini, with leaders of other European nationalist parties, ahead of the May 23-26 European Parliamentary elections, in Milan, Italy, May 18, 2019. (Luca Bruno/AP)
Nationalist parties from across Europe held a rally on Saturday in Milan promising to reshape the continent through next week’s EU parliamentary election.
Headlining the event was Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen of France's National Rally (RN; Rassemblement national). The two populists are eager for their Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group to become the third largest party in Brussels.
“There are no extremists, racists or fascists in this square,” Salvini said. “Here you won’t find the far-right, but the politics of good sense. The extremists are those who have governed Europe for the past 20 years.”
Thousands of flag-waving supporters of Salvini’s League party packed a rain-soaked central Milan square to see far-right and anti-immigrant leaders from 11 European Union countries present a common front in their battle to pull back power from Brussels.
“This is a historic moment,” said RN leader Marine Le Pen, “we say no to this immigration which has submerged our nations, putting our people at risk,” she said, playing up an issue that has helped fuel support for nationalist groups.
Hundreds of opponents gathered on the sidelines, their boos, jeers and whistles sometimes drowning out the speakers. “Fascists leave Milan,” they chanted as Salvini took the stage.
The ENF also includes Austria's Freedom Party, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the Netherlands' Party for Freedom, whose head Geert Wilders was present in Milan.
But despite their shared dislike of immigration and the EU, Europe's populists remain divided on many key issues on the continent, including budgetary discipline, migrant distribution and relations with Moscow.
Notably absent from the rally was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party. Orban has publicly supported Salvini and promised "cooperation" after the vote, but refuses any form of alliance with Le Pen.
Poland's governing PiS (Law and Justice party) also did not attend the rally, however, smaller parties such as Bulgaria's Volya and Slovakia's Sme Rodina, took place in the event.
Most of Europe's rightwing nationalists are currently divided into three blocs and a tangled web of alliances in the European Parliament, which Salvini and Le Pen would like to overhaul if not destroy.
The League is expected to emerge as Italy’s largest party for the first time next week as Salvini said he was working night and day for Italy. “If it is necessary, I will give my life for Italy, for my children, for you. I will stop at nothing and for nobody[/,” he said.