July 15. 2024. 8:08

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Political future of expelled newly elected Reconquête! MEPs in question

Within days of being voted in, far-right Reconquête! party founder Eric Zemmour announced, Wednesday (12 June), that he had expelled four of his five newly-elected members of the European Parliament (MEPs), casting uncertainty over their political future in the European Parliament.

Five Reconquête! MEPs were elected on Sunday (9 June), after they received 5.5% of the votes in the French EU elections – a historic first for a party created in 2022 by anti-immigration and anti-Islam politician Eric Zemmour.

All were expected to sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, in the Parliament’s hemicycle, which also houses Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia party, or Spain’s far-right VOX.

Yet within days of their wins, they are in political shambles, after the party’s former lead candidate Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine Le Pen (FN), split away from Zemmour.

Differences have emerged over what strategy they should adopt ahead of the snap legislative elections on 30 June and 7 July – casting doubts and questions over which group they will belong to in the European Parliament.

Maréchal explicitly called for Reconquête! to ally with their far-right counterpart Rassemblement national (RN), who secured close to a third of the votes in France in the European elections, to create an all-encompassing ‘far-right union’.

Hopes for such a union, spanning from Reconquête! all the way to conservatives Les Républicains (LR), were quickly crushed on Tuesday (11 June), when the RN ruled out the coalition option, citing their refusal to be associated “directly or indirectly” with Zemmour.

Maréchal, along with newly-elected party MEPs Guillaume Peltier and Laurence Trochu, and incumbent Nicolas Bay, took to accusing Zemmour, that he had not tried hard enough to agree to an alliance, and was responsible for ruining the deal.

Zemmour reacted at once by expelling his own MEPs from his party on Wednesday (12 June).

The rise and fall of France’s far-right union

A union of far-right movements in France, including renegades from the conservatives Les Républicains, was tentatively being put together in the hope to beat Emmanuel Macron, in a scenario many would have dreamt of at the EU level – before it backfired.

Changing obedience?

Questions are now being asked what will be the future of these freshly-expelled MEPs going forward?

Although expelled from their national party, they are under no obligations to resign – so far, none have said they intended to do so.

There are questions if whether they can continue sitting in the ECR group. Where Zemmour’s remaining MEP sits.

Under parliamentary rules, MEPs do not need to belong to a party to join a group – it only is a matter of political affinities and negotiations.

But Maréchal and her colleagues may choose, in the continuation of their calls for a union of all French and European far-right movements, to consider moving to Identity & Democracy (ID), where the RN sits and is likely to hold the group’s presidency.

Could they switch their allegiance, so late in the game, towards ID?

“I am not coming back to the Rassemblement national,” Maréchal, posted on X on Wednesday (12 June).

But at an European level, given the influence that RN is expected to leverage on parliamentary work, it is not impossible for her to change her mind.

Bay, an MEP since 2014, having first been elected under RN banners, and under Reconquête!’s banner in 2024 is currently sitting with ECR since February, may also be tempted to switch political families again.

Whatever happens, the next few days will be critical for Zemmour and the party renegades to clarify their stance – with the first round of legislative elections just 17 days away.

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