“The EU parliament is a cold, bureaucratic institution that has no soul. One just needs to stroll through the corridors to understand why it doesn’t work and is rejected by the people,” M Bardella, the chief Marine Le Pen’s protégé and a senior member of her Rassemblement National (RN) party, told France’s Le Figaro newspaper on Friday. M Bardella also accused President Emmanuel Macron of wielding his influence in Brussels to prevent far-right MEPs from being voted into top jobs on EU parliament committees, which play a significant role in EU lawmaking.
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He said: “M Macron’s friends have done everything within their power to prevent us from accessing positions of responsibility. Everything has been locked. Which has only served to strengthen our conviction that the European Union is anti-democratic and the negation of the voice of the people.”
The bloc’s parliamentary elections, however, “confirmed that the RN is the number one political party in France,” the 23-year-old lawmaker added.
The anti-immigration, sovereignist RN party rode a wave of nationalist sentiment to win the most votes in France’s election to the EU parliament in May.
The RN secured 23.6 percent of the French vote, a little over one percentage point ahead of Mr Macron’s centrist La République en Marche (LREM) list on 22.4 percent.
The election result dealt a brutal body blow to M Macron, who has put Europe at the heart of his presidency and had personally invested time in his party’s campaign.
But the outcome of the vote was a lift for Mme Le Pen and M Bardella, whom she had picked as her lead candidate despite his young age.
Together, the two eurosceptics successfully turned the election into a referendum on M Macron, urging supporters to show their rejection of his tough, business-friendly economic reforms and pro-European policies.
“The French people have sent a very clear message and a lesson in humility” to M Macron, M Bardella said shortly after the RN’s EU victory.
“It’s him and his politics that have been rejected.”
In June, Mme Le Pen unveiled a new far-right group in the EU parliament uniting eurosceptics from across the bloc determined to upstage the Brussels elite.
Calling itself the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, the nationalist alliance brings together the RN, Italian populist Matteo Salvini’s League party and Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD), plus nationalists from Austria, Finland and Denmark, among others.
“We have changed the political chessboard of the European Union,” Mme Le Pen said of ID, which holds 73 of 751 seats and is the fifth-largest grouping in parliament, just behind the Greens.
The parties have sought to bridge their differences to unite around the broad goals of devolving power from Brussels, curbing illegal immigration and preventing the spread of hardline Islam in Europe.
But different social and economic policies, including budgetary discipline, means they have struggled to put forward a coherent policy agenda.