Leaders of European far-right and nationalist parties meet in Warsaw on Saturday with the aim of creating a powerful new alliance that would become the second-biggest grouping in the European Parliament.
The talks will include around 14 parties and are being hosted by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling right-wing popu-list Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen are expected to attend, although organisers have not released a guest list.
Le Pen, a candidate in France’s presidential election in April, said the meeting was “an impor-tant step” but she did not expect any imminent announcement of a new group.
“We can be optimistic about the launch of this political force in the months to come,” she told re-porters.
One notable absentee will be Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s League, which put out a state-ment saying that “the time needs to be right and egoism and fear (both from parties and nations) need to be overcome”.
Salvini was one of the signatories of a declaration in July announc-ing plans for a “grand alliance” in the European Parliament — the prelude for Saturday’s talks.
The League and Le Pen’s Na-tional Rally are in the European Parliament’s Identity and Democ-racy Group, while PiS, Spain’s Vox and the Brothers of Italy party are in the European Con-servatives and Reformists Group.
Orban’s Fidesz left the European People’s Party, the biggest group in the parliament, in March and is looking for a new home.
Hungarian Families Minister Katalin Novak said the party’s aim was “to ensure that people with a nationalist, pro-freedom, anti-immigration and respect for traditional family values are rep-resented as strongly as possible in European decision-making”.
Ewa Marciniak, a political scien-tist at the Polish Academy of Sci-ences, said participants in Satur-day’s talks would try to “mini-mise the differences between them”, including on issues such as relations with Russia, as well as attitudes to abortion and LGBTQ rights.Instead she said they would em-phasise “their willingness to go back to the roots of the European Union”.The EU accuses Poland and Hungary of rolling back democ-ratic freedoms in recent years and has threatened to withhold fund-ing using a new conditionality mechanism.
Poland and Hungary say their sovereignty is under threat and have adopted increasingly euro-sceptic rhetoric.—Agencies