Far-right alliance: is this what Salvini wanted?
The new parliamentary group Identity and Democracy (ID) was founded in the European Parliament last week. Under the leadership of the Italian Lega politician Marco Zanni the group occupies 73 of the parliament's 751 seats. But commentators say that the new alliance has little in common with the big alliance of anti-European parties Lega boss Matteo Salvini had envisaged in the election campaign.
Populists will trip themselves up
Differences of opinion in the group will soon become apparent, Deutschlandfunk predicts:
“The consensus the group invoked today revolving around protecting the sovereignty of nation states from Brussels' long arm and creating a so-called 'Europe of Fatherlands' is a house of cards that will quickly collapse. The 'Europe of Fatherlands' will reach its limits when the nation states have to find compromises - for example on the much-coveted farming subsidies, the Eurozone budget or when joint arrangements must be made in times of crisis. ... The goal of the EU Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg isn't just to provide a forum for criticism. To bring Europe forward, it will above all be important to actually stand for something. But little will be heard from this group on that score.”
Why PiS and Fidesz aren't on board
Cristian Unteanu explains on his blog with Adevărul why forces critical of the EU in Eastern Europe rejected Salvini's overtures in the end:
“The first rejection came from the Polish PiS, which was very wary about Salvini's and Le Pen's relations with Russia and didn't want to further complicate its relations with the European institutions. ... The Fidesz party, which played a double game, displayed the same political restraint: after pushing its EPP colleagues to the limit and bringing about its own suspension, the party has now said it won't leave the group, and that it can't be accused of representing right-wing nationalist and populist positions when the whole world can see that it refused to join the group of Salvini's party.”
Salvini had hoped for more
Colomnist Stefano Folli explains in La Repubblica on whom the right-wing populist group is pinning its hopes besides the Eastern Europeans:
“Farage's Brexit Party is still being courted by Lega, which hasn't lost hope that it will be able to welcome it into its group with the new slogan 'Identity and democracy'. ... With 73 representatives (mainly Italians and French) the nationalists under the leadership of [Lega politician] Marco Zanni are the fifth largest group in the parliament. Only if they can add Farage's 29 MEPs to their ranks will they be able cross the 100-member mark. ... Salvini's dream was more ambitious (around 150 MEPs), but the group has its own consistency and a precise characteristic: it wants to be a landmine on the path to the formation of a new majority.”