Identity and Democracy changed its name to Patriots for Europe

Andrej Babiš @AndrejBabis
Viktor Orbán, Andrej Babiš and Herbert Kickl announced the establishment of the Patriots for Europe group in the European Parliament in Vienna, June 30.

As predicted in recent weeks, the Marine Le Pen group in the European Parliament changed its name from Identity and Democracy (ID) to Patriots for Europe. The seven ID members joined the two parties, the Hungarian Fidesz of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Czech ANO of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, to officially establish the Patriots for Europe group.

However, despite the Hungarian PM pompously announcing the initiative as its own on June 30, it is the National Rally (RN) of Le Pen that will be the real boss of the new far-right group. After failing to win the French legislative elections, MEP Jordan Bardella, the official leader of the RN, will lead Patriots in the Parliament. Fidesz Kinga Gál will serve as vice-chairman.

The group has 84 members from 12 countries and is the European Parliament’s third-largest alliance after Vox’s defection from ECR sent Giorgia Meloni‘s group to third place.

The Patriots may change before the newly elected Parliament sits in its first plenary session next week.

The members of the Patriots

The Rassemblement (RN) National of Marine Le Pen, with 30 seats in the European Parliament, is the real force of Patriots. The Vlaam Belang of Gerolf Annemans in Belgium, with three seats, and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) of Herbert Kickl, which was among the initial founders of Patriots on July 30, with six seats, are among the ID parties that increased their seats in June’s European elections.

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders re-entered the European Parliament with six seats but with a considerable drop in votes. Then, the SPD+Trikolora of Tomio Okamura and the Danish People’s Party (DF) of Morten Messerschmidt with one seat each.

The new ID member Chega of André Ventura in Portugal, who had entered the European Parliament for the first time with two seats, is also among Patriots members.

The big loser of the European elections, the Italian League of Matteo Salvini, was among the first parties to join the Patriots.

However, a traditional ID member, the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), lost his seat after his vice-chairman and only MEP, Jaak Madison, left the party and joined the ECR.

The parties of Orbán and Babiš, Fidesz and ANO respectively, sought an alliance in the European Parliament. Orbán searched for a group after his party, Fidesz, left the EPP in 2021. The Hungarian PM tried to join the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. Still, his relations with Vladimir Putin and refusal to assist Ukraine caused several ECR members to reject the option. European Interest wrote about the possibility of a Le Pen- Orbán joint group in the Parliament on April 6.

Fidesz brings to the new group 11 seats, two less than it won in the 2019 European elections.

The ANO party has seven seats, one more than in 2019.

Moreover, the defection of the Spanish Vox, a leading ECR member until July 5, secured Patriots for Europe third place in the European Parliament.

A Greek MEP also joined the group.

Russia’s allies

The Patriots’ official constitution doesn’t change much about the situation in Parliament, as these parties have already promoted anti-EU positions and often vote together.  

The members of the group use homophobic rhetoric, make racist comments against Muslims and Roma, deny climate change and quickly adopt conspiracy theories.

However, what more distinguishes Patriots from the ECR is their Russophilia.

Orbán is an ally of Vladimir Putin, and his visit to Moscow a few days after his country began the rotating EU Council Presidency proved this again.

Le Pen’s party is in debt to the Russian president because of a massive loan to her party.

The FPÖ has had close ties with Putin’s regime for many years, dating back to the mid-2000s. Some of its MPs visited Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, to consider potential investments in the occupied territory. In 2017, these relations took on an official character as the party signed an agreement on cooperation with Putin’s All-Russian Political Party “United Russia.” The agreement included exchanging information on current issues regarding Russia and Austria, bilateral relations, and other matters.

Salvini is also a fervent supporter of Putin.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. Patriots for Europe serve the interests of Russia. Either consciously or unconsciously. And thus they threaten the security and freedom of Europe,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala wrote on his account on X.

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