June 14. 2024. 1:22

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Austrian far-right to court Le Pen to let AfD back into European party

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), which has managed to become the largest political force in the Central European country, is pushing its European political family, the Identity and Democracy (ID), to admit Germany’s scandal-ridden AfD back into its ranks.

The ID group in the European Parliament expelled the AfD last month, amid growing fears among Marine le Pen’s Rassemblement National and other national delegations that the AfD’s extremist views could alienate parts of their voter base.

The Austrian FPÖ, which is about to double its seats in the European Parliament, however, has other plans.

Harald Vilimsky, who led the FPÖ into the election, stressed that he would meet with Le Pen next Wednesday to strategise about how to expand the number of MEPs of the ID group, which is currently expected to get 58 lawmakers, to a three-digit number.

According to Vilimsky, the 16 MEPs that the AfD is expected to get would be a good addition to the group.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to the AfD to explain and decide for themselves how things will look with the AfD, whether they want to be part of the whole or not,” he said, adding that he will talk “about the expansion of our political grouping” at the meeting with Le Pen.

High-ranking AfD politicians have already stated that they would like to rejoin the ID group.

Following the release of the German exit polls, which put the AfD in second place with around 16% of the vote, potential delegation leader René Aust voiced hope for a rapprochement with other far-right parties in the European Parliament.

“We will resume contact tomorrow,” Aust told German public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday.

The AfD was expelled from the ID after the party got hit by a series of scandals.

Number one and two on the AfD election list, Maximilian Krah and Petr Bystron, have both been accused of taking money from Russia via an alleged propaganda network, while Krah himself is additionally under preliminary investigation for alleged close relations with China.

Whether the two controversial candidates will be part of the AfD delegation in the EU Parliament remains to be seen.

“I won’t comment on that. That’s for the delegation to decide,” said AfD co-leader Alice Weidel.

Read more with Euractiv

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