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French far right splits with Germany's AfD in EU parliament

By AFP

May 21, 2024 09:57 PM


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France's main far-right party said Tuesday it will no longer sit in the EU parliament with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) faction, indicating it had lost patience with the controversies surrounding its German allies.

The National Rally (RN) said it was going to create some distance from the AfD after comments made by the head of the German party's list in the upcoming EU polls next month about the SS paramilitary force in Nazi Germany.

Marine Le Pen's RN is currently riding high in the polls for the EU election and is expected by analysts to easily beat the centrist coalition of President Emmanuel Macron next month.

Le Pen, who has waged three unsuccessful presidential campaigns, has sought to bring the RN into the political mainstream as she eyes another tilt at the presidency in 2027.

Party leader Jordan Bardella, who is heading the RN list in the elections, has "decided to no longer sit with" AfD deputies in the EU parliament, his campaign chief Alexandre Loubet told AFP.

The head of the AfD's list in the polls, Maximilian Krah, had said in a weekend interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica that someone who had been a member of the SS was "not automatically a criminal".

"We had frank discussions" with the AfD, said Loubet. "Lessons were not learned so we are taking the consequences," he said, adding Bardella had taken the decision in the afternoon.

The RN and AfD had been the key members of an EU parliament group called Identity and Democracy that also included several other European far-right parties.

Krah has been at the centre of numerous controversies with investigators this month searching his Brussels office as part of a probe into an aide who is suspected of spying for China.

As head of the RN party, Bardella, 28, is forming an effective political tandem with Le Pen which would like to appoint him prime minister if she wins the presidency.

The decision to cut ties with the AfD comes as Bardella prepares for a key pre-election debate on French television on Thursday with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal.

Le Pen said in January she disagreed with the idea of mass expulsion of immigrants after the AfD reportedly discussed the idea at a meeting with extremists, including a prominent Austrian far-right leader.


AFP


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