Marion Maréchal, executive vice president of the far-right party ‘Reconquete’, better known as Marine Le Pen’s niece, announced its party adherence to the European Conservatives and Reformist (ECR) Group on February 7.
In a press conference at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, Nicola Procaccini, co-chair of the ECR Group, and Maréchal, the top of the Reconquest list in the European elections, said Nicolas Bay, the only MEP of her party, will now be part of Meloni’s Group at the European Parliament.
Reconquete was founded by Éric Zemmour in 2021, ahead of the 2022 French presidential election. Zemmour, a writer and journalist known for his far-right views, was a candidate but placed fourth in the first round. He also holds several convictions for inciting racial hate.
Marion Maréchal was involved in Zemmour’s presidential campaign and emerged as a co-leader soon. An admirer of the far-right Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, Maréchal told Le Point in an interview that it has just obtained its attachment to the ECR Group after long months of negotiations.
Reconquête has a hard nationalist programme based on anti-immigration and Islamophobic rhetoric, calling for the ban of the Muslim Brotherhood and linked organisations. The party also made homophobic statements. Maréchal, like the Marine Le Pen party and other far-right groups, exploited the recent farmers’ protest in France with populist slogans.
She will undoubtedly find a family environment inside the ECR Group.
“Do you want the European Union to respect nations and protect our civilisation finally? With our allies @ecrgroup, we have a historic opportunity to regain control and shift Europe to the right,” she posted on X on February 7.
Speaking during the press conference in Strasbourg, Maréchal said that her party shares a common vision of Europe with the ECR Group.
She then deployed Reconquête’s agenda: fight against immigration and Islamisation, opposition to Brussels centralism, respect for nations and their identity, and defence of conservative values.
The ECR under Meloni’s star
Once established by the British Conservatives after Brexit, the ECR Group passed under the guidance of the Polish Law and Justice (PiS), the biggest party of the Group, until Meloni’s star outshined PiS.
Most ECR national members have recently been successful in national elections, and polls indicate further success.
According to polls, ECR could become the third force in the Strasbourg Parliament after the June European elections, behind the Conservatives of EPP and the Socialists and Democrats.
Although Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) has only 10 MEPs at present, polls show it at the top with 29% of preferences. In addition, Meloni is the prime minister of a country that is a G7 member and has one of the strongest economies in the EU. While she deployed a far-right social agenda on the national level, her ability to address international problems, such as the war in Ukraine, pushed her as a de facto leader of the ECR.
PiS has 25 MEPs but is an opposition party after last year’s national elections. In addition, it lost more than 10% of the votes it received in the 2019 European elections. However, it will send a considerable number of MEPs to Brussels.
The Sweden Democrats, a white supremacist party with 3 MEPs, is expected to increase their number. Polls indicate the party’s preferences at 23% at the second post.
The Finns Party in Finland and the far-right Vox in Spain have 2 and 4 MEPs, respectively. However, according to the polls, although they constantly figure in third place, they are stable.
What Maréchal brings to ECR?
Zemmour had received 7% of the votes in the first round of the 2022 presidential elections. According to the polls, his party has around 5-7%. At the same time, Rassemblement National (National Rally), aligned with the hard, far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament, comes first with 28%.
If so, Reconquete will elect 5-6 deputies. Suitable for the ECR that had no representation from France.
During the press conference at Strasbourg, Maréchal announced that Nicolas Bay, MEP, will now be a member of the Bureau of the ECR Group.
Bay is an old politician of the far-right National Front. He served as its General Secretary from 2014 to 2017.