Harald Vilimsky Becomes Vice President of the "Patriots for Europe" Faction in the EU Parliament

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: July 9, 2024; 15:57 ♦ (Vindobona)

On July 8, 2024, the new faction "Patriots for Europe" was founded in the European Parliament. With 84 members from twelve countries, this group represents the third-largest faction and is led by Jordan Bardella, the chairman of the French Rassemblement National (RN).

Le Pen's party takes the lead of the "Patriots for Europe" in Strasbourg and includes members of Orbán's, Wilders', Lega's, and FPÖ's parties. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons; Diliff, CC BY 3.0 DEED (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)

Harald Vilimsky, head of the FPÖ delegation in the EU Parliament and one of the vice presidents of the new faction, described the founding as a "new era of patriotic European politics." He emphasized that the "Patriots for Europe" sent a strong signal against EU centralism and pursued policies for the nations and peoples of Europe. The founding is based on lengthy negotiations in which the FPÖ was significantly involved.

FPÖ and Europe's Right

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) plays a significant role in the European right. It is an integral part of alliances and networks of right-wing populist and far-right parties in Europe. A key aspect of its role is close cooperation with other right-wing populist parties, such as Germany's AfD, France's Rassemblement National (formerly Front National), and Italy's Lega Nord. These parties often work together to pursue common goals, such as restricting migration and opposing European integration.

Within Austria, the FPÖ has connections to far-right groups like the Identitarians, leading to controversies and legal consequences. Its youth organization has particularly close ties to these groups and promotes similar extremist positions. Overall, the FPÖ serves as a hub in a network of European right-wing parties that share ideological goals and seek to influence European politics.

The FPÖ also has long-standing and extensive connections to Russia, which have sparked controversy for years. These relationships include political and ideological cooperation as well as personal contacts with Russian actors. The FPÖ maintains close ties to Vladimir Putin and his party "United Russia." These connections are especially critical during times of geopolitical tension, such as the Ukraine conflict. The FPÖ has repeatedly voted against sanctions on Russia and often takes pro-Russian positions, drawing criticism in both Austrian and European contexts.

The connections to Russian politics also include economic aspects, such as relationships with Russian companies. Additionally, there are reports of financial support and possible Russian influence on the FPÖ, which have been discussed in various media and political debates.

Composition of the Faction

The faction is composed of the following parties:

- Rassemblement National (France): 30 members

- Fidesz and Christian Democratic People's Party (Hungary): 11 members

- Lega (Italy): 8 members

- ANO (Czech Republic): 7 members

- FPÖ (Austria): 6 members

- PVV (Netherlands): 6 members

- VOX (Spain): 6 members

- Vlaams Belang (Belgium): 3 members

- Chega! (Portugal): 2 members

- Danish People's Party (Denmark): 1 member

- Voice of Reason (Greece): 1 member

- Latvia First (Latvia): 1 member

Leadership and Goals

In addition to Bardella as chairman, several vice presidents were appointed, including Klara Dostalova (ANO, Czech Republic), Sebastiaan Stöteler (PVV, Netherlands), and Antonio Tanger (Chega, Portugal). Vilimsky sees the new faction as a beacon of hope for millions of citizens longing for peace, freedom, and prosperity in Europe, as reported by Austrian newspaper "DiePresse".

Controversies and Criticism

However, the faction also faces criticism. The membership of controversial figures such as Italian General Roberto Vannacci, known for his controversial views, has caused a stir. Additionally, other parties in the European Parliament have refused to cooperate with the faction due to its anti-European stance and extremist positions.

The "Patriots for Europe" aim to "resize" the EU and stop the Green Deal. Further accessions to the faction are not excluded, Vilimsky emphasized, expressing pride in being part of this group. Whether the faction can achieve its goals remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly influence the political landscape in the European Parliament.