Le Pen and Meloni should work together after EU election, Hungary’s Orban says

By Thomson Reuters May 29, 2024 | 12:38 PM

PARIS (Reuters) – Italy’s and France’s far-right leaders Giorgia Meloni and Marine Le Pen should end their rivalry and reinforce cooperation after June’s European Parliament election, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told French magazine Le Point in an interview published on Wednesday.

“If they manage to work together, in one unique group or a coalition, they will be a force for Europe. The appeal of their cooperation would be very strong,” said Orban, a far-right icon across Europe.

Polls predict that Europe’s nationalist and eurosceptic parties will win a record number of votes in June as voters punish mainstream parties for failing to shield households from high inflation and curb immigration.

Lawmakers representing such views will likely sit in two rivaling groups.

Sources told Reuters chances for forming a single, muscular far-right bloc in Europe are slim, citing differences between its leading figures, Meloni and Le Pen, on issues such as what stance to take on the Ukraine war and relations with Russia.

Asked if his party Fidesz still planned to join Meloni’s ECR bloc after the election, Orban said, “Yes, this is still on the agenda.”

Orban said in the interview, however, that “everything can be rewritten” now that Le Pen’s rivalling ID camp has kicked out German far-right party AfD which he saw as the main obstacle for cooperation between the two fractions.

Asked about possible candidates to lead the European Commission, Orban said his top priority was to “get rid of the current leadership” and that it would be too early to float names.

Asked by Le Point about his views on former ECB chief Mario Draghi as the EU’s next Commission president, Orban said: “He is a respectable man.”

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Richard Chang)