BRUSSELS (AP) — Marine Le Pen, the French far-right leader who produced a shocking win in the European election, came Wednesday to the home of the European Union, the organization she blames for undermining France's economy, hamstringing its sovereignty and flooding it with immigrants.
The National Front leader was searching for enough like-minded fellow members of the European Parliament to form a parliamentary group, a step that would guarantee more speaking time and financial support.
Le Pen's party came out on top in France in Sunday's election and will be sending France's largest contingent to the European Parliament with 24 lawmakers. But to form a parliamentary group, representatives of at least six other countries must join with the National Front.
That may not be assured. The other big Euroskeptic election winner, Nigel Farage of Britain's UKIP party, already belongs to a parliamentary group and has ruled out an alliance with the National Front.
"That isn't going to happen," Farage told British media.
Le Pen's meetings were taking place in a hush-hush environment. Her party confirmed she was in Brussels but provided no details. She was to hold a news conference later.
The National Front advocates the collapse of the 28-nation EU, and its unprecedentedly strong showing sent shockwaves across Europe. Opponents said they would stage a protest near the parliament building at the same time Le Pen was to meet with reporters.
Even before the election, Le Pen and Euroskeptics from other countries were planning an alliance. However, to reach the seven-nation threshold, she may have to persuade two UKIP allies, Italy's Northern League and the Finns, to defect, said Marco Incerti at the Center for European Policy Studies, a Brussels think tank.
Associated Press writers Greg Katz in London and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.
- Politics & Government
- Marine Le Pen
- European Parliament
- European Union
- Nigel Farage