Europe: Far-right EU groups to form party

Far-right political leaders from four EU nations have unveiled plans to form a pan-European "patriotic" party.
The heads of far-right parties from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and France said their aim was to defend Europe against "Islamisation" and immigrants.
At a news conference in Vienna, they said they expected to launch the party by 15 November.

The move comes several months after the collapse of a far-right bloc in the European Parliament. The Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS) bloc disbanded itself in November after a row between its Italian and Romanian members over race.

In Vienna, the heads of Austria's Freedom Party, Belgium's Vlaams Belang, Bulgaria's Ataka and the French National Front said the new party would be a counter-balance to other political forces in Europe.

"We say: Patriots of all the countries of Europe, unite! Because only together will we solve our problems," Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache said. "Irresponsible mass immigration to Europe from outside Europe due to irresponsible politicians... is the problem," he said.

Asked about the chances of success of the new party, French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was also present in Vienna, said: "It's not necessary to hope in order to try."

The far-right leaders need support from seven EU parties to launch the group, but Mr Strache said that the goal was to have "more than 10 parties as members and ideally one party from each EU country". The new party has no name yet, but Mr Strache said European Patriotic Party or European Freedom Party were working titles. The plan for the new party drew a rebuke from Austria's governing Social Democrats who said the proposed political force was absurd and contradictory.

25 February 2007