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European Alliance for Freedom (EAF)

After winning an unprecedented number of seats in this weekends European Parliamentary election, Frances far-right National Front (FN) now faces the challenge of forging formal alliances with other eurosceptic groups. The FN, led by Marine Le Pen, was just one of several right-wing populist parties vehemently opposed to the European Union to perform well in the vote. The others include the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the Netherlands' Freedom Party and Denmarks Peoples Party. The eurosceptic parties are set to take 130 of the European Parliaments 751 seats. Despite the gains, the FN faced a battle to build the alliances it needs to effect any change, because of tight parliamentary rules and political differences between the parties.

The European Alliance for Freedom (EAF) is a pan-European alliance of Members of the European Parliament, together with national and regional parliamentarians and parties, united under a political platform calling for national freedom and democracy in opposition to centralised, supranational control. Concerned with issues of freedom and democracy in the EU, the EAF does not operate within the Left-Right political paradigm and its members come from across a wide political spectrum.

The European Alliance of Freedom is a eurosceptic right-wing group made up of individual members rather than affiliated parties. However this may change after the 2014 elections with the party being a more formal grouping of various right-wing parties. Individual members included Marine Le Pen (France - National Front) and Philip Claeys (Belgium - Flemish Interest).

While Le Pen and the FNs gains in France were electorally impressive, it did not necessarily translate into any real power within the European Parliament. The FN wanted to lead parliamentary group, a move that was vital if they wish to chair committees, have full speaking rights in plenary sessions and access to generous allowances that would allow them to take on staff and run offices. Forming a parliamentary group can give parties access to between one and three million euros to take on staff and run offices. European law dictates that groups based on affiliation rather than nationality must consist of at least 25 MEPs from a quarter of the member states represented in this case seven countries. Marine Le Pen had about 24 MEPs from her own party, but its the seven different member countries that pose a major problem.

The group had already expressly banned the more radical parties, such as Hungary's Jobbik or the British National Party from joining the group. Le Pen ruled out joining forces with the extreme-right Golden Dawn in Greece or Ataka in Bulgaria, are considered untouchable, even by Marine Le Pen. Having spent years trying to shake off the FN's reputation as a refuge for Nazi sympathisers, Le Pen said she did not envisage meeting newly elected German MEP Udo Voigt of the neo-Nazi NPD.

Dutchman Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom party (PVV), Austrias Freedom Party (FPO), Belgiums Vlaams Belang and, possibly, the Swedish Democrats (SD), were to discuss how to turn Le Pens European Alliance for Freedom into an official parliament group. Italys anti-immigration Lega Nord is set to splinter from the European Parliaments right-wing, eurosceptic political group, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD).

As of 29 May 2014 efforts by Dutch anti-immigration campaigner Geert Wilders and France's Marine le Pen to form a formal group within the European parliament appeared to have failed. So far the PVV and the Front National, which emerged as the biggest party in France after the weekend's European parliamentary elections, had only found three other parties to join forces with. As expected, Austria's FPO, Italy's Lega Nord and the far-right Belgian party Vlaams Belang have joined the Wilders and Le Pen-led alliance.

Other potential group members included:

  • Sweden Democrats (two MEPs);
  • Danish Peoples Party (four MEPs);
  • Alternative for Germany (seven MEPs);
  • Polish Congress of the New Right (four MEPs);
  • Lithuanias Order and Justice (two MEPs);
  • a lone Greek independent.

Some nationalist populist parties, such as Nigel Farages UK Independence Party or the Danish Peoples Party, have distanced themselves from Le Pen. UKip leader Nigel Farage had always made it clear he will not work with Wilders or what he calls the anti-semitic Front National. The Sweden Democrats said they would rather work with Britain's UKip party and the Slovakian SNS party failed to win any seats in the European parliament.The Danish People's Party will not work with Le Pen either, nor will the German Eurosceptic group Alternative fur Deutschland.

Le Pen said they should get the additional remaining two by July 2014 at the latest .

European Alliance for Freedom (EAF)
Alliance europenne pour la libert (AEL)
Leader Franz OBERMAYR (Austria)
1 FranceFront National
2 Belgium Flemish Interest / Vlaams Belang
3 Netherlands Freedom party (PVV)
4 AustriaFreedom Party (FPO)
5 Italy Lega Nord

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