« The National Front’s delegation will be the largest French group in the new European Parliament. Integrating the far-right party into the new assembly could prove to be delicate exercise. »
The day before the election, in the Île-de-France region that surrounds Paris, the FN team already posed logistical problems, as it did not expect to have three candidates elected in this department.
“The MEPs from Île-de-France have offices in Paris? Where?”, a source wondered. The European Parliament office in France, near the National Assembly in Paris, have proposed shared office spaces for the elected officials, where some of the MEPs from Île-de-France already work, like those of the Socialist Party or the centrists. The FN representatives do not seem to like the feel of the place.
The morning of Monday 26 May, the day after the results were revealed, the FN MEPs have begun their term by snubbing the press briefing, sending just one elected representative. Two of the six Greens were there, along with four of the eight centrists.
Nicolas Bay, 36, was immediately challenged by his new colleagues after questioning the honesty of the elected representatives.
“We have an eye on your honesty,” immediately retorted the centrist Jean-Marie Cavada, citing the multiple mandates of a number of FN candidates and the payment of Michel Aliot, Marine Le Pen’s companion, who was an assistant during the previous legislature.
Two female candidates left out
The day after the elections, two women that were number two on the European Parliament lists were thanked but then replaced, by men. One such case is Jeanne Pothain, who was number two on the list in France Massif Central region, who is to step down for health reasons. The other is Jöelle Bergeron, number two on the FN’s list in the West region. She has been urged to step down, after speaking out in favour of foreigners getting to vote in the elections.
“I don’t know what the position of the National Front is, but anyway, I don’t care. As an individual, I am in favour of when a foreigner who works, pays his taxes in France, votes,” she said during the campaign.
Parachuted into Île-de-France
Not only do the three FN candidates for Île-de-France need to find an office. They also do not live in the region. The number one on the list, the geopolitical scientist Aymeric Chauprade, has lived in Vienna until now. The third on the list, Jean-Luc Schauffhauser, is from Strasbourg, where he was a candidate in the municipal elections. He was ousted from the list by Florian Philippot in the Northeastern region, which includes Lorraine and Alsace, due to a difference of point of view.
The number two on the list, Marie-Christine Boutonnet, is from Gaillac, in the Tarn department in southern France.
Chauprade is in charge of international relations for the group, so particularly busy at the moment, as the party looks to rally elected representatives from seven different countries to form a group in the European Parliament.
The party plans a press conference in Brussels with its classic allies, from the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, on 28 May.