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Hungary: Orban announces new far-right European alliance

June 30, 2024

Hungarian, Czech and Austrian parties have created the Patriots for Europe grouping, which aims to secure more influence for right-leaning and far-right parties in the new European Parliament.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Herbert Kickl of Austria's Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hold a news conference to announce the creation of a new European populist alliance called Patriots of Europe, in Vienna, Austria, on June 30, 2024
Babis, Kickl and Orban held a news conference Sunday to announces Patriots for EuropeImage: TOBIAS STEINMAURER/APA/picturedesk.com/picture alliance

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced plans for a new alliance of European populist parties, during a news conference in Austria on Sunday.

Dubbed Patriots for Europe, the group brings together Orban's right-wing populist Fidesz party, Austria's far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and the Czech Republic's centrist group of ex-premier Andrej Babis.

Currently, there are seven political alliances at the European Union level that represent the political parties of the 27 member states elected to the European Parliament. The groups are organized by political affiliation rather than nationality. Some parties don't belong to any group.

What did Orban say?

Speaking a day before Hungary assumes the rotating six-month EU presidency, Orban told reporters in Vienna that Patriots for Europe aims to become the "largest group of right-wing forces in Europe."

"A new era begins here, and the first, perhaps decisive moment of this new era is the creation of a new European political faction that will change European politics," he said.

The Hungarian leader promised the alliance would fight for "peace, security and development" instead of "war, migration and stagnation" brought by what he termed the "Brussels elite."

He said that "starting immediately ... all political forces that want to join in our political and positive reform effort are very welcome."

The new alliance will need the support of parties from four other European Union states before it can be recognized as a group in the European Parliament.

The three men didn't answer questions from reporters but the FPÖ said a news conference would be held in Brussels or Strasbourg soon with other parties joining the alliance.

Orban's Fidesz party was until 2021 a member of the center-right European People's Party, the largest group in the European Parliament. The Czech and Austrian parties have also quit other alliances to create the Patriots for Europe.

FPÖ chief Herbert Kickl signs an agreement to create a new European rightwing populist alliance, in Vienna, Austria, on June 30 2024
Patriots for Europe includes Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), which won the country's election for the European ParliamentImage: TOBIAS STEINMAURER/APA/picturedesk.com/picture alliance

'Sovereignty first' manifesto

Patriots for Europe's manifesto, signed by the three party leaders, criticized what it said are plans for "a European central state" and pledges "to prioritize sovereignty over federalism, freedom over diktats, and peace."

The three leaders said another key priority for the alliance would be the fight against illegal immigration, which has long been a pressing concern for them.

The EU has recorded 53,270 irregular migrant arrivals in the first five months of 2024, according to data from the bloc's border agency, Frontex. If arrivals continue at their current pace, the total would be nearly 128,000 people, a 53% fall on the 275,049 irregular arrivals in the whole of last year.

Why has the new alliance been created?

The European Parliament elections in early June strengthened hard-right parties overall, though their performances varied from country to country.

The nationalist parties capitalized on voter disquiet over spiraling prices, migration and the cost of the green transition.

Until now, the parties have been spread across two groups in the EU legislature, but through the new alliance, they hope to translate their seat gains into more influence in EU policy decisions.

Far-right politicians, including Orban and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, complained that, despite their increased support, they were snubbed in negotiations to decide the top leadership positions in Brussels following the June 6-9th vote.

After talks between mainstream groups, EU leaders agreed this week to nominate Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as president of the European Commission, the executive arm that draws up legislation.

They also picked former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa to replace Charles Michel as head of the European Council, which helps guide legislative policy on behalf of the EU's 27 member states and the European Parliament.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was nominated to be the EU's foreign policy chief, replacing Josep Borrell.

The new European Parliament must now vote to approve the top leadership positions before the nominees can take up their roles.

Who else could join?

The creation of the new alliance has sparked speculation about which other populist parties could now join.

Among the possibilities is the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which was recently expelled from the right-wing European Identity and Democracy (ID) group.

Meloni's right-wing populist Brothers of Italy party is currently a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party.

mm/kb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)