The ENF: at the far-right of the European Parliament

Karinne DELORME
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(L-R) Frauke Petry of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), French National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini of Italy's Northern League and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Party in Koblenz, Germany on January 21, 2017

(L-R) Frauke Petry of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), French National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini of Italy's Northern League and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Party in Koblenz, Germany on January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/ROBERTO PFEIL)

Paris (AFP) - Here is a snapshot of members of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), a circle of far-right parties who met in the west German city of Koblenz on Saturday.

The small group, which comprises 40 EU lawmakers from nine nations in the 751-member European Parliament, was created by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen in June 2015.

Most of the member parties have made electoral gains, riding a wave of populism across the European Union amid its worst migration crisis since World War II.

- France: The National Front -

Established in 1972, the National Front (FN) has been led since 2011 by Marine Le Pen, who took over from her firebrand father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The party triggered shockwaves when it leapfrogged the two main parties into first place in 2014 European elections, garnering 24.85 percent of the vote and 24 of the country's 74 seats.

Hoping to capitalise on economic gloom, as well as fears over migration and jihadist attacks, Le Pen is gearing up to contest the French presidential election.

Current polls predict she will qualify for a second-round run-off in May but ultimately lose to conservative rival Francois Fillon.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been ostracised by his daughter, made it into the 2002 presidential run-off election against Jacques Chirac.

Chirac won the vote after other parties including the Socialists urged their supporters to rally behind him, to keep Le Pen out of the Elysee Palace.

- Netherlands: Freedom Party -

The anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders, the FN's main ally in the ENF, holds 12 seats in the lower house of parliament, and four of the country's 26 seats in the European Parliament.

Surveys show the PVV might emerge as the largest party in the Dutch parliament after March 15 elections, although not with an outright majority.

Wilders has among other things vowed to confiscate Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut the borders and ban migrants from Islamic countries.

- Austria: FPOe -

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) was founded by former Nazis in 1956, but had a mixed membership and only veered emphatically to the far right in the 1980s.

Its entry into government in 2000 shocked the rest of Europe and led to EU sanctions against Austria.

The eurosceptic and anti-immigrant party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, currently has 38 deputies in the 183-seat national parliament and four out of 18 seats in the European assembly.

The FPOe's Norbert Hofer failed to become the EU's first far-right head of state after losing a runoff on December 4, 2016, but nonetheless reaped 46.2 percent of the vote -- the FPOe's best result to date.

- Italy: Northern League -

The Northern League is a "regionalist" party seeking independence of regions north of the Po river, an area it calls "Padania".

The party, which has transformed into an anti-euro and anti-immigrant party since young Matteo Salvini took the reins in early 2014, secured 18 parliamentary seats in 2013 general elections and has five seats out of 73 in the European Parliament.

- Belgium: Vlaams Belang -

The Flemish party Vlaams Belang (VB) advocates the secession of Dutch-speaking Flanders from the rest of Belgium.

However it has been in decline and has had just three of the 150 seats in parliament since legislative and federal elections in June 2014. It has been sidelined by the nationalist New Flemish Alliance.

VB has just one out of 21 seats in the European Parliament.

- Poland: KNP -

The small europhobe Polish Congress of the New Right (KNP) won four of the country's 51 seats in the 2014 European elections, of which two have joined the ENF.

- Germany: AfD -

Alternative for Germany (AfD) is not a member of the ENF, but one of its two Euro MPs, Marcus Pretzell, has joined the group in a personal capacity.

The party opposes Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal refugee policy and it has enjoyed a surge in support in state elections over the past year.

Ahead of general elections which are likely to be held in September the party is polling at around 15 percent, providing a major headache to Merkel.

Other European Parliament deputies have also joined the ENF: Janice Atkinson, formerly of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Romania's Laurentiu Rebega, an independent and Italy's Marco Zanni of the populist Five Star movement.