Matthijs Nieuwenhuis, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, November 15, 2007
The far-right ITS grouping in the European parliament has collapsed. A major confrontation between its Romanian members and Italian MEP Allesandra Mussolini sounded the death knell of their collaboration, which was only established in January this year. With the five Romanian members having left the bloc, it was left two MEPs short of the 20-MEP minimum required to qualify as a political grouping in the parliament.
The motley collection of far-right politicians did not last very long in the European Parliament. What started out ten months ago as an attempt to win more power and influence for Europe’s far-right parties has ended in a blazing row. The bloc, which included the French Front National and the Belgian Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), collapsed as a result of arguments within its own ranks.
A row between Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and the Greater Romania Party spelled the end of far-right collaboration in the parliament. In a radio interview with Dutch public broadcaster VPRO, Ms Mussolini suggested that all Romanians were criminals:
“Romanians are flooding Italy. Of all foreign prisoners in Italian jails, 70 percent are Romanians and they top all others in their use of violence and their lack of respect for women. This criminal invasion must be stopped.” The Romanians were, predictably, furious, with MEP Eugen Mihaescu describing his Italian colleague in less than flattering terms:
“To me, Ms Mussolini is an inflatable doll. I’m talking about the kind that you buy in a sex shop. To my mind, she has nothing to do with politics.”
The former ITS bloc in the European Parliament comprised:
* 7 members of the Front National (France)
* 5 members of Partidul România Mare (Romania)
* 3 members of Vlaams Belang (Belgium-Flanders)
* 3 members of Attack Coalition (Bulgaria)
* 1 member from Alternativa sociale: Lista Mussolini (Italy)
* 1 member from Movimento Sociale Fiamma tricolore (Italy)
* 1 independent member (United Kingdom)
* 1 member from the FPÖ (Austria)
The other MEPs were rather pleased with it all. The announcement that the bloc was now too small too continue as a grouping was greeted with applause. Dutch Labour MEP Jan Marinus Wiersma made the following comment:
“I’m glad they have proved they are unable to work together. We all heaved a sigh of relief when we heard that the bloc had disintegrated. It put a smile on my face. This also means that there is little coherence in the far-right movement where Europe is concerned.”
The collapse of the grouping is a clear sign of a weakened European far-right movement. The MEPs who once formed ITS—which stands for Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty—have lost quite a few privileges with the loss of ‘bloc’ status. Vlaams Belang MEP Philip Claeys, one of the bloc’s former members, said:
“It is unfortunate that we no longer have the privileges enjoyed by other groupings in parliament, such as the right to submit resolutions and amendments. We are also barred from supplying chairpersons for commissions and are now entitled to less support staff. It is a weakening of our position, we will continue to do our work, but it is going to be more difficult.” It would appear the far-right grouping will not soon rise again from its ashes, even though the parties themselves hope to return stronger than ever after the 2009 European elections.