Babis, Orban, and Herbert Kickl (FPO). Credit: Herbert Kickl, via Facebook

ANO’s New Far-Right Grouping Becomes Third Biggest In European Parliament

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The Patriots for Europe grouping in the European Parliament, newly founded by Andrej Babis’s ANO last week along with Hungary’s Fidesz and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), has already become the third largest grouping in the parliament, with 84 MEPs signed up from 12 countries. These include seven Czech MEPs from ANO, and two from the “Prisaha and Motorists” coalition.

Babis told reporters yesterday that he considered the rapid growth of the new grouping to be “a huge success”, and that ANO had joined the new group, mostly populated by far-right parties, in order to better pursue its agenda. ANO was previously affiliated with the liberal Renew Europe group.

The new group, formed officially in Brussels yesterday, says it wants to focus on “defending the sovereignty of EU member states”, reducing migration, and revising the Green Deal for Europe.

ANO deputy chairman Karel Havlicek said the movement was still looking for partners who shared its views on EU issues. ANO’s views on the conflict in Ukraine, including criticism of the Russian aggression, have not changed, he added.

Havlicek condemned yesterday’s air attack on Ukraine, which included a strike on a children’s hospital with dozens of casualties.

The Patriots for Europe group is headed by the leader of the French National Rally (RN), Jordan Bardella, with Czech MEP Klara Dostalova (ANO) as one of its seven vice-presidents.

Babis said that ANO shared a common view on European issues with the Prisaha and Motorists alliance. The parties agree on migration, opposing the phase-out of combustion engine cars, and efforts to change the Green Deal. He did not rule out further cooperation, although he also described the Motorists as a revival of the Civic Democrats (ODS), the current senior government party.

“Now we are talking about Europe and the European group, we are glad they are there with us. It has nothing to do with our domestic politics yet,” Babis said.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) wrote on social media that “the Patriots for Europe group serves Russia’s interests. Whether knowingly or unknowingly. And in doing so, they are endangering the security and freedom of Europe.” 

Babis rejected Fiala’s comments as “nonsense”, and described the Prime Minister as “a pathological liar”. He said that ANO, unlike politicians of the current ruling parties, has never colluded with the Kremlin. ANO prefers peace and stopping the fighting as soon as possible, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Bartos (Pirates) wrote on social media that “Babis had turned brown”, referring to the traditional colour of fascism.

“[Babis] looks up to Orban and has been in league with nationalist parties from other European countries,” Bartos said. He added that ANO’s journey from a populist right-wing party through socialism to nationalism, as well as strong flirtation with an uncritical view of Russia, confirms previous comments by Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) that Babis is an incipient security threat.

Alongside the nine Czech MEPs, the Patriots for Europe group is made up of 30 MEPs from Marine Le Pen’s French RN, 11 from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz, eight MEPs from the Italian League, six each from the FPO, Spain’s Vox, and Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), three from Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, and two from Portugal’s Chega. The remaining three MEPs in the group come from Denmark, Greece and Latvia.

Babis said he believed the group had the potential to gain other members.

He also defended Orban regarding his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.

“Orban holds the EU presidency, and unlike [Czech Prime Minister] Petr Fiala, he is doing something about it,” Babis said. He noted that Orban had also held talks with the leaders of Ukraine and China, and said he expected Orban to report the results of the meetings to key world leaders, who may have a say in peace talks over Ukraine, at the NATO meeting in Washington this week.

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