Rights in the EU: agree to disagree

Status: 12/27/2021 5:31 a.m.

European right-wing parties establish cross-border contacts, but face conflicts of interest. The AfD is on the sidelines – also because of internal party differences.

By Andrea Becker, rbb, and Silvia Stöber, tagesschau.de

Warsaw, early December. Delegates from ten right-wing European parties meet in the Polish capital. The Polish ruling party PiS has invited to the “Warsaw Summit”. The most prominent guests are Marine Le Pen from France and the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The FPÖ sent its vice chairman. The chairman of the VOX party came from Spain.

Your goal: strategic talks about the future of the EU and the possible merger to form a parliamentary group in the European Parliament. The result: a vague declaration of intent about future meetings and possibly joint votes in the European Parliament. The Italian right-wing parties Lega Salvini and Fratelli d’Italia had canceled. The AfD was not even invited.

Two groups in the European Parliament

The “Warsaw Summit” was not the first attempt to forge a transnational alliance of nationalist parties. In the European Parliament they are divided between two groups, the EKR group – dominated by the PiS – and the ID group, which currently unites almost exclusively right-wing opposition parties. Here the Lega and Le Pens Rassemblement National are about equally strong. AfD and the FPÖ are also members of the ID group. Hungary’s ruling party Fidesz under Orbán is non-attached and is looking for a new home in the European Parliament.

In addition to common positions, for example in migration policy, family policy and the rejection of basic liberal values, the right-wing conservative and right-wing extremist parties are divided much. That applies to economic policy, but also to the relationship with Russia. Le Pen told a Polish newspaper that Ukraine is part of the Russian zone of influence – a position that Poland and, in particular, the PiS fundamentally contradict. In addition, strong personalities like Le Pen and Orban find it difficult to subordinate themselves to one another.

PiS builds on opposition to Germany

The relationship between the PiS and Germany illustrates that nationalist politics are driving the parties in Europe apart instead of uniting them. PiS Vice President Antoni Macierewicz wanted the “Warsaw Summit” to be understood as a meeting that was also directed against “German hegemony” in the EU.

That could explain why the AfD was not invited. A question of ARD-Politimagazins Contrasts and from tagesschau.de The PiS politician and co-chairman of the EKR parliamentary group, Ryszard Legutko, left unanswered about the reasons.

There is no lack of efforts on the part of AfD MEPs to please the PiS. You appear as a vehement supporter of Poland in the rule of law proceedings initiated by the EU Commission against the government in Warsaw. In interviews with the English-language PiS-related channel TVP World, they advocate positions of the PiS.

Expertise on cooperation

In an opinion that Contrasts and tagesschau.de is available, the AfD had the chances for a cooperation examined specifically. The expert comes to the conclusion that – as with Le Pen – the pro-Russian position of the AfD is a problem, exacerbated by the support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. When asked, he wrote that the Nord Stream 2 project “is unlikely to have played a role in this context”.

AfD outsider

The AfD also occupies a marginal position in the ID group in the European Parliament. Although the party is a member of the parliamentary group, it does not belong to the associated European party alliance “Identity and Democracy”.

Even among right-wing parties critical of the EU, the AfD’s decision in April to seek an exit not only from the euro but also from the EU caused irritation. At the party congress in Dresden, arguments such as: “Because the EU has to die if Germany wants to live” came up.

Both the Lega and the Rassemblement National gave up their exit fantasies some time ago. While these moderated rhetorically, the tone of the AfD is becoming increasingly shrill. Meuthen also warned that the exit decision could jeopardize the AfD’s alliance options. Upon request from Contrasts and tagesschau.de he called the decision again “unwise”.

Contradictory foreign policy

While Meuthen’s days at the top of the AfD are numbered, the party shows a confusing foreign policy. On the weekend of the “Warsaw Summit”, of all places, the Bundestag member Steffen Kotré traveled from the AfD state association of Brandenburg, which is suspected of right-wing extremism, to the Polish capital – to “explore possibilities for cooperation” with representatives of the Konfederacja alliance and other right-wing European parties. In Konfederacja there are extreme right-wing, nationalist and monarchist groups, which reached around seven percent in the last Polish parliamentary election.

In the AfD there is displeasure with Kotré. According to information from Contrasts and tagesschau.de there were efforts in the group’s executive committee to reprimand him. When asked, those involved did not want to comment. According to Meuthen, these contacts took place without consultation with the party’s leadership. They are to be rejected. Kotré, however, is acting differently: in mid-December he organized a joint cross-border demonstration with the Konfederacja.

On other occasions, such as the Duma elections in Russia, AfD MPs have been on site as observers on their own and sometimes against the declared will of their parliamentary groups. Others embarrass their party by being friendly to China or by taking contradicting positions in political conflicts. The apparent lack of professionalism in foreign policy and Germany’s position as an opponent of nationalist parties make the AfD appear less attractive in Europe. But other parties also find it difficult to find each other, making stable alliances difficult.


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