France's Marine Le Pen's National Front has teamed with other parties in an effort to build a right-wing alliance in parliament. Although she struggled for support, Le Pen is confident she'll form a Euroskeptic group.
After leading the National Front (FN) to victory in France's European elections with 25 percent of the vote, Le Pen is seeking to form a far-right group of parties in parliament that could boost anti-establishment influence in the EU.
"We will try to prevent any new advances by the EU, we will try to block with our votes any new advances to the detriment of populations," Le Pen told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.
She has thus far secured the backing of representatives from four other right-wing parties in Europe: Geert Wilder's Dutch PVV, Austria's FPÖ, the Northern League from Italy, and Belgium's Flemish Interest. To form a parliamentary group that would guarantee her more speaking time and financial support, however, she needs representatives from two further countries to join with the FN.
Seeking more parties
Le Pen still remains two parties short of an alliance. The Euroskeptic parties have been hesitant to team up with some of Europe's most far-right parties. Le Pen has said she has no intention of working with Greece's extreme far-right Golden Dawn or Hungary's Jobbik.
The leader of Britain's UKIP party - the other big Euroskeptic winner in last week's elections - already belongs to a parliamentary group and has ruled out teaming with the FN.
"That isn't going to happen," UKIP leader Nigel Farage told British media.
Le Pen confident
Le Pen and her allies remain confident, however, that their group will be successful.
"We aren't worried in the least about the future existence of our group," said Le Pen.
"Farage heads a group and wants to keep it," she added. "Sorry Nigel but we're going to set up our group."
Wilders said he and his anti-Islam, anti-immigrant PVV were "very confident that maybe not tomorrow but in the next few weeks" two more ally parties will be found.
If successful, the far-right group would have the right to express an opinion on any raised in plenary sessions and take the presidency of any of parliament's 20 committees and sub-committees. They could help draw up plenary session agendas and reply directly in those sessions to the heads of the European Commission and European council. They would also be given a secretariat, offices and aides paid for by the European Parliament.
dr/mz (AFP, AP, dpa)