World Bulletin/News Desk
France's far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen told a Sunday paper she expects her party to get enough votes in the May 22-25 European elections to form a bloc with other Eurosceptics that can stop the European Union's progress.
The Front, which has three representatives in the European Parliament, hopes to get 15 to 20 European MPs, Le Journal du Dimanche quoted her as saying.
"We take part (in the election) to block the progress of the European project," Le Pen said.
Le Pen wants to drop the euro, is against the free movement of people in the union, and wants national sovereignty to take precedence over European legislation.
She said that many people do not vote in European elections because they are against the EU, but that this is the opposite of what they should do.
"We are going to the very place we need to be ... a minority bloc that prevents more austerity and more loss of substance for France," she said.
The May election is expected to produce a surge in support for anti-EU parties on both the left and right, with some projections suggesting around a quarter of the 751 seats in the parliament could go to non-mainstream parties.
At a joint news conference in the Netherlands in November, Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders and Le Pen called for the creation of a new political group in the European Parliament after the May elections.
Their appeal was quickly rebuffed by Britain's Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP).
A bloc must have at least 25 seats and include parties from at least seven countries. Without UKIP, the Front and the Freedom Party may struggle to reach the seven-country threshold.
But Le Pen said the Front has cooperated for many years with Austria's FPO, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats. She said she expected other parties - like Italy's Northern League and Fratelli d'Italia - to join after the election.
"I have no doubt. There will be a group," she said.
Asked about Wilders's recent anti-Moroccan statements, she said that he has "extremely hard" viewpoints with regard to immigration and Islam.
"I have read he has compared the Koran to (Adolf Hitler's) Mein Kampf. That is his opinion. One has a right to one's opinion, no? Blasphemy is not illegal, not even in France," she said.
She added that Wilders is in favour of gay marriage, while she is against, but that does not mean they cannot have the same view on the European Union.
"What we both want is the sovereignty of states and nations," she added.
PUZZLED BY FARAGE
Le Pen said UKIP leader Nigel Farage's comments about the National Front being anti-semitic are "fallacious, deceitful and defamatory".
"Mr Farage used to have rather good relations with us. I am puzzled by his change of heart. I suspect it is a sordid tactic to keep the presidency of a group now that we are in a position to challenge him," she said.
Farage is co-president of the European Parliament's Europe of Freedom and Democracy group of right-wing Eurosceptics, which was formed after the 2009 election. UKIP and the Northern League are its leading members.
According to a Motivaction International survey of more than 10,000 people, far-right Eurosceptics in France, Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium have far more in common than just animosity towards the EU or opposition to migration.
Rather than being single-issue voters with narrow national interests, the survey suggests far-right Eurosceptics share a common set of values and concerns that could potentially make them a meaningful bloc in the European Parliament.Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2014, 15:35