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Le Pen setback as EU far-right alliance fails

France's Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, had to admit defeat as her plan to form a far-right faction in the EU parliament by Tuesday failed. But Le Pen is still confident the group can form before July 1.

France's National Front said on Tuesday that the

failure to form a group of far-right-parties in the EU parliament

by Tuesday's deadline was down to its refusal to form alliances with those that "don't share our values," a reference to ultra-nationalist parties like Golden Dawn in Greece or Jobbik in Hungary.

According to a Front National statement, the party chose to "favor quality and consistency over ease and haste." It went on to say that efforts to form an alliance before July 1 would continue.

Italy's Lega Nord party said it was also confident that the far-right parties would manage to reach an agreement by the end of the month.

After winning the parliamentary elections in France with an unprecedented 25 percent of the vote, Le Pen had vowed to form an alliance in the European parliament, which starts work again on July 1.

She needs representatives of at least seven member states to form a group. If they do not manage to form a group, the parties will have to present themselves as "non-attached" members in the EU parliament. That would deprive the parties of the extra funding, staffing and speaking time of multi-national party alliances.

On Tuesday, Le Pen was two countries short of that target, highlighting the intense bickering among Europe's far-right parties.

Le Pen has lost her key partner in Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders after she held talks with the far-right Polish nationalist party, KNP.

Wilders refuses to work with the KNP, calling it "a bridge too far," as its leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, said that women are less intelligent than men and should not vote, and that there was no proof Adolf Hitler knew of the extermination of the Jews.

UKIP challenge

Meanwhile, another thorn in Le Pen's side is Nigel Farage from the euroskeptic UK Independence Party, or UKIP.

Last week Farage, who refuses to work with Le Pen due to what he called the Front National's anti-semitic stance, announced he had formed an EU parliamentary group with 48 lawmakers, one of which is a National Front defector. It also includes Italy's Five Star Movement, headed by Beppe Grillo.

ng/lw (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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