Far-right faction in European Parliament dissolved

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

European Parliament in Brussels.

The far-right coalition Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS) in the European Parliament, collapsed today after the Romanian delegates withdrew over a dispute with Italian Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of dictator Benito Mussolini.

After a Roma gipsy was accused of murdering the wife of an Italian naval officer recently, Ms Mussolini told the Romanian newspaper Cotidianul on November 2nd: "Breaking the law has become a way of life for Romanians. However, it is not about petty crimes, but horrifying crimes, that give one goose bumps."

In her comment, Ms. Mussolini did not distinguish between Roma gipsies and the rest of Romanians, which the leader of the Romanian deputies, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, found to be "a sacrilege toward our people". The far-right Greater Romania Party is running on an anti-Romani platform. Mr. Tudor went on to suggest that such a comment could be expected from the grand-daughter of Benito Mussolini, which Ms. Mussolini saw as an insult to her family.

After these five Romanian Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) left, the ITS only had 18 members left, whereas 20 members from six countries are needed to form a faction.

As a result of the dissolution, these MEPs will no longer be able to amend laws in the plenary meetings of the European Parliament, they will get less time to speech, and they will not be able to use the translator service or ask for certain financial contributions for their meetings. The bloc now misses out on an estimated 1.3 million.

Immigration tensions have soared recently in Italy, resulting in the expulsion of 20 Romanians. Since Romania joined the European Union, their citizens should be able to travel freely within the European Union, but Italy is considering restrictions on this right.

Beside the Greater Romania MEPs and several politicians from Italy, the ITS bloc was composed of members from Austria (FPÖ), Belgium (Vlaams Belang), Bulgaria (National Union Attack), France (Front National) and individual politicians from the United Kingdom.

Attempts to form a far-right coalition in the European Parliament had previously been undertaken, but the ITS faction only came together last January, after Romania and Bulgaria had joined the European Union on January 1.

The survival of the group was already doubtful, according to polls which predicted an electoral wipeout for the Greater Romania party in the elections on November 20.


European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Several other political groups welcomed the break up, and the official announcement today was reportedly followed by some applause.

German MEP Martin Schulz, head of the left Party of European Socialists, released a statement saying that: "The good news is that the [group] of the ultra-nationalists no longer exists and cannot use the money of the European taxpayer to support its xenophobia and neo-fascism."

According to allied Liberal leader Graham Watson: "They are a casualty of their own philosophy which paints all foreigners into a single mould and encourages xenophobic and racist comments and remarks which have no place in the European Union. ... The irony of a Mussolini destroying the coherence of a far-right group will not be lost on Europeans from Bucharest to Brindisi."

English green MEP Jean Lambert put it this way: "This collection of unsavoury European politicians were united only by hatred — be it of other races, nationalities, sexualities or, ironically, the EU — and it was only a matter of time before they succumbed to a hatred of each other as well."