Theodoros Benakis

ECR sails through dangerous waters

Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0
Javier Ortega Smith, Secretary General of the far-right Vox (pictured during a Vox rally in 2018) will represent the party in the ECR's event.

As Britain’s Conservatives prepare to say goodbye to the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group seems to have come under the influence of Poland’s ruling PiS.

However, the Polish conservatives, while they haven’t yet decided to keep the ECR alive in the next European Parliament, are undertaking initiatives that are politically risky. The fate of the ECR could be in limbo.

In fact, the ECR Group already has a rather strong far-right representation among its members. This could push the Group into isolation and affect negatively the entire parliamentary work.

PiS is looking for allies

The Law and Justice (PiS) is a conservative party with net nationalist and Eurosceptic views. In addition, PiS is wilfully attached to positions that dissociate it from the other European democratic parties. It is hysterically anti-immigration and anti-Islam, even though Poland is not facing increased migration. In fact, it is still rather rare to meet an Asian or African migrant or refugee, or even Muslims (with the exception of the businessmen and tourists from the Gulf countries – who are not included in the party’s xenophobic schemes).

As Poland’s ruling party, PiS is facing several problem issues with European Commission. The tension is caused by the Polish government’s choices: the introduction of a controversial law on the judicial reform that Brussels considers a direct attack on rule of law.

Consequently, PiS is looking anxiously for international support. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is the most fervent of its supporters on a clear anti-EU base but too close relations with him could end-up toxic. The Italian far-right Ieader, Matteo Salvini, recently visited Warsaw hoping to secure allies. But his blatant pro-Russian positions frighten the Poles.

Now it seems there is a new friend. It is Vox, the Spanish far-right party!

Vox in Brussels

For years, Spain seemed to be immune to the far right virus that has infected many EU member states. Last December, however, a far-right party based on an anti-immigrant rhetoric emerged in the regional elections of Andalusia. The Vox party, according to the polls, is wining more supporters and it is predicted it will have electoral success in both national and European elections, next April and next May respectively.

Vox has been invited to address the European Parliament by the ECR Group

Vox endorses anti-Islam and anti-immigration discourses and it is against multiculturalism and against feminism. It wants a strong national state (and by consequence it is against any thought of EU integration). Vox also considers that Gibraltar belongs to Spain and wants to eliminate Spain’s autonomous communities.

As a result, Vox is an ultra-nationalist party which detected major possibilities for electoral benefits in the Catalan crisis.

It is for this reason that the party has exerted the private accusation in the judicial proceedings at the High Court of Justice of Catalonia and the Supreme Court against Catalan separatist leaders facing criminal charges.

Now Vox has been invited to address the European Parliament by the ECR Group. The invitation is for an event about Catalonia or to be more precise on what they consider as a “separatist coup d’état”.

In fact, the March 6 event will serve as a unique opportunity for Vox representatives to explain their positions at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels.

the Vox party is an affair of the kind of Marine Le Pen and Salvini and not of the ECR

Why it is a surprise such an event?

It shouldn’t be. Many far-right leaders including dictators have been invited to the European Parliament.

But the Vox party is an affair of the kind of Marine Le Pen and Salvini and not of the ECR.

The ECR Group argues that Vox, which exercises the popular accusation against the coup plotters in the Supreme Court of Spain, should explain the reality of the conflict, which has been generated by their attempt to break national integrity.

But this is not enough.

Vox is a far-right party and should be treated as such. A cordon sanitaire should be placed around it!

ECR dangerous friendships

The warring fact is that ECR seems to be too kind and too tolerant to far-right and xenophobe political forces.

The Danish People’s Party, known for its anti-immigration and anti-Islam positions, the Finns Party who’s leader Jussi Halla-aho was convicted in 2012 in Finland for racist comments and the Bulgarian racist and nationalist IMRO are ECR members since some years already.

In July 2018, the two MEPs of the Sweden Democrats, a far-right party with roots to the white supremacist movement in Sweden became members of the Group. In December the same year, an MEP, member of the Brothers of Italy party, who is the inheritor of the neo-fascist party MSI, join ECR as well.

Now the sudden friendship with Vox cause obvious concerns. Which kind of allies the ECR and especially PiS are seeking in the next Parliament?

Explore more