Open Europe Blog

With the deadline for the registration of European Parliament political groups set to expire early next week (the European Parliament’s equivalent of a transfer window), even the moves of individual MEPs can be decisive.

Nigel Farage suffered an unexpected blow yesterday, as Dutch MEP Bastiaan ‘Bas’ Belder (see picture) announced that he would leave UKIP’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group and join the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) – the Tories’ group.

This complicates things for Farage, who now needs MEPs from at least three more member states (other than UK, Italy, Czech Republic and Lithuania) to gain the seven countries needed to keep his EFD group alive.

Time is running out, but there are still a few options out there, including:

  • The Sweden Democrats (who have also applied to join the ECR group); 
  • German satirical party Die Partei; 
  • Poland’s Congress of the New Right (who are also in talks with Marine Le Pen);
  • Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki of the Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO).

Meanwhile, there has been no news from the Le Pen-Wilders front this week. They also need two more countries to wrap up their group. Given that Farage and Le Pen have both ruled out joining forces with Golden Dawn, Jobbik and the German neo-nazi NPD, the room for manoeuvre is now narrower, and the two may well end up contending for the same MEPs. The next few days are going to be interesting.

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