Kickl, Orbán, and Babiš: An Alliance for a New Right-Wing Europe

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: June 30, 2024; 11:27 ♦ (Vindobona)

At a joint press conference in Vienna, FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš announced the formation of a new right-wing group in the European Parliament. This "patriotic" alliance is to become the largest right-wing group in the EU Parliament and aims to form a strong opposition force against the established parties.

Viktor Orbán aims to establish a robust right-wing group in the European Parliament, collaborating with various EU countries to challenge the "liberal mainstream" and shape European politics. / Picture: © European People's Party - EPP / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

The press conference took place in Hotel InterContinental in Vienna and was attended by numerous media representatives. Kickl explained that the FPÖ, Orbán's FIDESZ, and Babiš' ANO had won the European elections in their countries and would now like to form a joint group in the EU Parliament. He emphasized that other parties would join this alliance.

In a guest article for the Hungarian newspaper "Magyar Nemzet", Orbán explained that the European right-wing parties should form strong groups in the European Parliament to reform the EU from within, as reported by "DerSTandard". "Right-wing parties should form strong groups in the European Parliament, and then develop cooperation between them." And: "We should turn our eyes to Paris and Vienna." It is hardly surprising that the world is looking to France. After all, parliamentary elections are being held there, which President Emmanuel Macron surprisingly called after the EU elections on June 9. According to the polls, Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National could likely celebrate a triumph and take first place. Macron's ruling Liberals, on the other hand, could suffer a heavy defeat and end up in third place behind the left-wing bloc of the Left, Socialists, and Greens. Babiš added on X that ANO had left the "Renew Europe" and "ALDE" groups because they were not interested in positions but in real change.

The EU-wide strategy

The newly founded parliamentary group should not only consist of the three parties. To form its own group in the EU Parliament mandates from at least four other EU countries are required. Kickl was optimistic and said that there were already signs that there would be more supporters than expected.

The FPÖ and the French Rassemblement National (RN) are among the leading forces in the current ID group in the European Parliament. The right-wing nationalist Polish PiS party and Melonis Fratelli d'Italia from Italy, on the other hand, dominate the ECR Group. Efforts to unite these two groups under one roof have so far been unsuccessful, as national interests often take precedence over international cooperation.

Right-wing wanting to unite

Following the EU elections, there were efforts in the right-wing camps to form a large parliamentary group, while conservative forces show signs of breaking away. Marine Le Pen, Giorgia Meloni, and Alice Weidel, three strong women from France, Italy, and Germany, are at the forefront of these efforts. Their electoral successes show a trend that is also drawing younger voter groups to the right, making Europe's political landscape more unpredictable.

In different regions of Europe, however, the successes of the right vary. While successes in Northern Europe and the Baltic states remained limited, there were significant gains for nationalist parties in the founding countries of the EU and in the Netherlands.

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party lost ground in Hungary for the first time, while Péter Magyar will join the Christian Democrats (EPP) group in Strasbourg. In Poland, Donald Tusk's Civic Platform won, while the PiS nationalists became weaker. Despite these successes for the right, the pro-European alliance of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, and Liberals remains viable in Strasbourg.

The influence of the right-wing populists could remain limited, as the Liberals and Greens are showing weakness and it could be close for von der Leyen in the plenary vote in July. Within the EPP group, there are tensions and possible rebellions against the dominant Macronists.

There are efforts to form a large faction of the right and convince parts of the EPP to vote against the current course. However, this seems unlikely as a completely new EU policy would be required. Nevertheless, there are some MEPs within the EPP who reject cooperation with the "reds and greens".

Le Pen, Meloni, and Weidel play leading roles in these reorganization efforts, as reported by "DerStandard". In Berlin, the AfD came second, while the Fratelli d'Italia in Rome quintupled their seats in Strasbourg with 31%. Meloni's party could take the lead in the ECR group, with Orbán's Fidesz MPs possibly docking, although this is controversial within the ECR group.

After the EU elections, there were efforts by right-wing populists and extreme right-wing parties to regroup. The right-wing camp is currently split into two factions: the ID Group and the ECR. Orbán's Fidesz party is looking for a new parliamentary group. Le Pen would like to win over Meloni for cooperation but rejects the AfD. The ID parliamentary group is still led by Salvini's Lega, which is trying to win back the AfD. Le Pen is trying to cultivate her party's moderate image and is distancing herself from the AfD. It remains to be seen whether Meloni and Le Pen will work together or whether von der Leyen will be supported.

Closing ranks with the AfD

Months earlier, Kickl and Alice Weidel, the federal chairwoman of the German right-wing conservative AfD, had already emphasized their similarities in another press conference. Both spoke out vehemently against uncontrolled immigration and climate policy, which they describe as "eco-communism". They also criticized the "economic war against Russia" and the coronavirus policies of the governments in Germany and Austria.

Weidel announced that the AfD would probably present a candidate for chancellor in the next election and emphasized that her party was seeking to join forces with the FPÖ. Kickl and Weidel also complained about the defamation and campaigning of their parties by political opponents.

The FPÖ has improved its links to the AfD and all other European right-wing parties, especially in recent months. However, the AfD has been ditched by many right-wing parties in Europe, above all the French right, and the FPÖ therefore wants to position itself as the link between all right-wing parties in Europe.

Orbán's role in the EU

Orbán's government takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on Monday. The country, which has been condemned several times for violations of the rule of law, is basing its presidency on the slogan "Make Europe Great Again", a borrowing from the campaign slogan of former US President Donald Trump. A right-wing alliance would give Orban and Kickl a lot of influence, above all through their special position as leaders of Europe's most successful right-wing groups and Hungary's Council Presidency.

The announcement of a new right-wing group in the European Parliament by Kickl, Orbán, and Babiš marks a significant step in European politics. It remains to be seen how successful the alliance will be and which other parties will join. What is clear, however, is that this development could have a significant impact on Europe's political landscape.