The Netherlands’ anti-immigration PVV and French far-right group Front National are to form an alliance within Europe to counteract the ‘Brussels monster’, the two party leaders said on Wednesday.
PVV founder Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen, daughter of the Front National founder Jean Marie, said in a joint press conference in The Hague the new alliance will act as a counterweight to the ‘elite’ power block formed by the EU.
‘We are the old European states but we have to ask permission for everything from Brussels,’ Le Pen said. ‘We have to accept being told who may cross our borders. We want to give our people back their freedom.’
Wilders said earlier he hopes to expand the alliance to include Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and Italy’s Lega Nord. Britain’s Ukip party has ruled out membership of any alliance including the Front National.
Earlier, Wilders gave Le Pen a guided tour of the Dutch parliamentary complex. Wilders described Le Pen as an important politician, a potential future leader of France and a good friend.
Several dozen people gathered outside parliament to protest at the presence of Le Pen
According to a poll for television show EenVandaag, 72% of PVV voters back a more intensive alliance with the Front National.
PVV voters are more concerned with the influence of Europe on domestic affairs than claims of anti-semitism against the French party and are keen to see a broad alliance of nationalist parties to try to reduce EU influence.
The poll also shows 72% of PVV voters agree with Marine Le Pen that all religious symbolism, including Muslim face veils and Jewish skull caps, should be banned from public spaces.
The Volkskrant outlined three key areas in which Wilders and the Front National have different standpoints: on Islam, Israel and gay rights.
While Wilders wants the Koran banned and has called for a kopvoddentaks (head rag tax) for Muslim headscarves, Le Pen says she is not opposed to religion and wants a sharp division between church and a secular French state.
It would be a small sacrifice for Jews to leave their skull caps at home, Le Pen is quoted as saying.
Wilders is a staunch supporter of Israel, and his campaign against Islam is part of this, the paper says. Le Pen, by contrast, has been trying to dispel her party’s reputation for anti-semitism. Her father, who is still the party’s honorary chairman, has described the World War II gas chambers as a ‘minor point’ in history.
Le Pen was also quiet during the recent uproar in France over gay marriage, although her party was well represented at anti-gay marriage demonstrations, the Volkskrant states.
Wilders, however, has made support for gay rights central to his anti-Islam campaigning.
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