While some speculated that the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and the Danish People’s Party (DPP), both with MEPs with criminal records, would be given the cold shoulder by UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, the opposite happened, writes the Financial Times.
The two MEPs with criminal records are PS MEP Jussi Halla-aho and DPP’s Morten Messerschmidt, who was convicted in 2002 for claiming that cultural diversity was linked to rape, violence and forced marriages.
Writes the Financial Times quoting Mats Persson of the Open Europe think-tank said:
This will raise the eyebrows of many in Europe who thought the Danish People’s party in particular wouldn’t pass the Tory party’s blush test…The good news for the Tories is that they’re on course to become the third largest party in the European Parliament. The risk however is that they drive reform-minded liberal parties straight into the arms of the big federalist block in the EP [European parliament].
PS chairman Timo Soini expressed satisfaction about being accepted into the ECR.
“Fifty-five MEPs have joined so far this group [ECR],” Soini was quoted as saying on YLE. “This group is in practice bigger than the Left and Green group [European United Left-Nordic Green Left].”
The PS and DPP used to belong to the Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, with far-right parties like the Slovak National Party, whose leader said that the best policy for dealing with the Roma is “a long whip in a small yard.”
With parties like the Lega Nord – formerly an EFD member – joining Marine Le Pen and the PS and DPP the ECR, the interesting matter to watch is if UKIP’s Nigel Farage will be able to get the seven parties and 27 MEPs are needed to form a group in the European parliament.
Read full story here.
Another interesting question to ask is why Cameron permitted two anti-immigration parties with MEPs with criminal records to join the ECR?
One answer is that Cameron and his fellow conservatives in the group don’t care too much if a politician has been sentenced for ethnic agitation or has issues with racism. Taking into account the Tories’ anti-immigration rhetoric that has grown recently due to the growth of the UKIP, this is nothing strange.
The PS’ entry into the ECR puts the party well into the conservative, populist and far-right camp.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.