Right-wing party saves Grillo's EU alliance

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Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement is part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
13:19 CEST+02:00
Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement has joined up with a controversial right-wing Polish party, whose leader has been criticized for his views on the Holocaust, to stop its European Parliament alliance from crumbling.

The Five Star Movement’s Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group is due to re-form with the help of Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, an MEP from Poland’s Congress of the New Right (KNP).

The EFDD was plunged into crisis last week when Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule pulled out, leaving the group without the minimum seven countries to form an alliance.

But this week the group announced it is “back with a bang”, having signed up Iwaszkiewicz. The EFDD submitted the MEP’s signature to the European Parliament on Monday, paving the way for the group’s formal comeback.

The choice to welcome the KNP into the EFDD has however raised some eyebrows, due to the views of the Polish party’s leader.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke was earlier this month described as “one of the most controversial figures in Polish politics” by Aleks Szczerbiak, a politics professor at the UK’s University of Sussex.

The KNP leader has in the past said that Adolf Hitler may not have known about the Holocaust, while he has also questioned women’s right to vote and said the difference between sex and rape is “very subtle”, Szczerbiak noted.

But Herman Kelly, the EFDD’s spokesman, said Iwaszkiewicz’s membership had nothing to do with the head of the Polish party.

“Iwaszkiewicz was the only Polish member asked to join. Korwin-Mikke is not a member of our group. Both Ukip [United Kingdom Independence Party] and EFDD group abhor and reject any scent of anti-Semitism.

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"All groups in the EP [European Parliament] have very odd bedfellows. The rules to get speaking time and funding are set by the EP, not Ukip,” Kelly said in a statement.

Ukip is the largest party in the EFDD, followed by the Five Star Movement. 

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