Le Pen to attend Salvini’s fest. On Sunday, the leader of the League Matteo Salvini announced on X (née Twitter) that National Front leader Marine Le Pen will be attending his party’s annual event in Pontida, in Northern Italy. Mr Salvini called her “a great friend” and a “historical ally of the League” and promised the event would be “a moment of union among peoples for a Europe that is finally free.”
- He also shared a video featuring Ms Le Pen, who announced she and the League leader “will naturally evoke the future, the joy of fighting together for freedom, for the democracy of our peoples, of our nations. But I won’t add anything else – see you on [September] 17”.
Think EU2024. The French leader’s participation is further confirmation that Mr Salvini intends to stick with his far-right allies in next year’s European elections. The League leads the European Parliament’s Identity and Democracy (ID) group, which includes the National Front (FN) as well as Alternative for Germany (AfD).
- The League has been pressuring the other parties in his centre-right government coalition to refrain from vetoing a European alliance with the likes of FN and AfD, suggesting a stronger right-wing alliance could prove a viable alternative to the current majority – which includes the socialists, the liberals, and the moderate conservatives from European People’s Party (EPP).
- Mr Salvini has also been posturing on social and European issues to bolster his right-wing credentials and differentiate the League from its coalition members.
But some Italian allies are not having it. Antonio Tajani – head of Forza Italia (FI) and leading EPP member – had already issued several flat-out rejections of an alliance between his European group and the Eurosceptic FN (as well as AfD). “At home, [Mr] Salvini can do what he likes. We would miss him,” he reiterated on Sunday in an interview with Corriere della Sera, stating that Forza Italia is “part of another political family and Marine Le Pen will never be one of our allies.”
- “Our values are alternative to both [Ms] Le Pen and AfD. Their values, moreover, are also very different from those of the League, in my opinion,” he said, adding that any agreement with the formers is “absolutely impossible” while all cards are on the table with his Italian ally.
Still sticking with the left? EPP President Manfred Weber also touched upon the 2024 elections in an interview with Corriere della Sera, where he reiterated the EPP’s drive to remain the central force, capable of mediating with socialists and liberals alike for the sake of the EU. “The leaders of Spain and Germany are socialists, the French president is a liberal, and the EPP is the leading party in Europe; I think it is obvious that the three should sit down together and find an understanding for the future of the EU.”
- The League’s chief MEPs (Marco Zanni and Marco Campomenosi) reacted by blasting Mr Weber’s openness to dealing with the EU’s left and the EPP’s track record of supporting the Green Deal in the current legislature while calling for a “clear change of course and majority.”
- “Those who do not work for a united centre-right also in Europe play into the hands of the left,” wrote the MEPs.
Elsewhere, some in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s own EU Parliament group – the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) – have also been flirting with the EPP in hopes of shifting the bloc’s power balance rightward. Members of her Italian party, Brothers of Italy (FdI), have been engaged in a balancing act on this matter, suggesting to “keep an open mind” regarding alliances.
- Defence Minister Guido Crosetto, co-founder and leading member of FdI, remarked that Ms Le Pen’s participation in Pontida raised no issue. She “has the freedom to go where she wants, and [Mr] Salvini has the freedom to invite whoever he wants. Politics grows with confrontation,” he quipped.