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Orbán alliance gains enough support to be EU Parliament group

by editor

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s new right-wing alliance gained enough backing to qualify as an official group in the European Parliament after Belgium’s Vlaams Belang said it was joining the Patriots for Europe.

The announcement by Vlaams Belang late Saturday, which followed similar decisions by the Dutch and Spanish far-right parties on Friday, brings to seven the number of EU countries represented in the Patriots for Europe alliance, which Orbán launched late last month.

That means the alliance qualifies to form an official new grouping on the far right of the European Parliament. The assembly’s rules require an official grouping to have 23 MEPs from seven countries. Formal groupings of parties gain financial and procedural advantages.

Orbán already had enough MEPs. And now the alliance’s right-wing parties from Hungary, Austria, Portugal and the Czech Republic are being joined by groups from Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.

“The Patriots for Europe keeps growing with the latest addition, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang,” Zoltán Kovács, Orbán’s international spokesman, tweeted late Saturday.

“As right-wing, patriotic and nationalist parties, we stand strong together in Europe,” Vlaams Belang Chairman Tom Van Grieken said in a statement. “We have more in common than what divides us.”

The leader of Spain’s Vox party, Santiago Abascal, told La Gaceta on Friday that his party would join Orbán’s alliance, withdrawing from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists. The Netherlands’ Geert Wilders said his Party for Freedom wanted to join the Patriots for Europe to “protect our Judeo-Christian heritage. And our families.”

Barbara Moen and Karl Mathiesen contributed reporting.

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