Europe’s Right-Wing Leaders Seek New Party To Counter Islam, Other Perceived Threats

Right-wing leaders from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and France announced plans Friday to form a pan-European party with a mission to “rescue the Western world” from Islam and other perceived threats. Leftists called the plan “completely absurd.” Organizers of the new “European Liberty Party” pledged to pull in right-wing parties from at least three other countries and surpass the 20-seat threshold needed to form a faction in the European Parliament. “Patriots of all countries: Unite!” declared Heinz-Christian Strache, whose Freedom Party in Austria in the past has been accused of anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic statements. Strache was joined for Friday’s announcement in Vienna by Jean-Marie Le Pen of France’s extreme-right National Front; Frank Vanhecke of Belgium’s Flemish Interest Party; and Volen Siderov, the head of Bulgaria’s ultranationalist Ataka party. They said they would approach like-minded parties in Cyprus, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, along with rightists in Croatia and Serbia, which are not EU members.