Europe

Marine Le Pen hails patriotism as the policy of the future

Representatives of European right wing parties attended the Koblenz meeting (21 January 2016) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Representatives of many European right wing parties attended the meeting in addition to Ms Le Pen (second from right) and Mr Wilders (first from left)

French National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen has told a meeting of right-wing politicians in Germany that patriotism is the policy of the future.

The presidential candidate predicted that voters in France, Germany and the Netherlands would follow their US and UK counterparts to reject the arguments of the political establishment.

She said that 2017 would be the "year of the awakening" for European people.

Her comments were echoed by the Dutch politician, Geert Wilders.

"Yesterday, a new America. Today... a new Europe!'' Mr Wilders, the leader of the anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), said while opening the meeting under heavy security in the central German city of Koblenz.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hundreds of people are protesting against the Koblenz meeting
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Both Mr Wilders and Ms Le Pen praised the concept of patriotism

"The people of the West are awakening. They are throwing off the yoke of political correctness," he said.

"This year will be the year of the people... the year of liberation, the year of the patriotic spring."

Ms Le Pen said Britain's vote to leave the European Union last year would have a domino effect across the European Union (EU).

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"We are experiencing the return of nation-states," she said.

The year 2016 was characterised by the "awakening of Anglo-Saxon countries", she added, while 2017 "will be the year of the awakening of the people of continental Europe".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many demonstrators in Koblenz carried colourful banners

Ms Le Pen denounced German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy which she said had allowed huge numbers into Europe and was a "daily disaster''.

The conference of right-wing parties comes ahead of key elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany in 2017 in which they hope nationalist and anti-immigrant policies will resonate with the electorate.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Koblenz to demonstrate against the meeting.

Also attending the meeting are Frauke Petry of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), Harald Vilimsky of the Freedom Party of Austria and Matteo Salvini of Italy's anti-EU Northern League.

It takes place a day after the Washington inauguration of Mr Trump, who championed the causes of patriotism and "America first" in his speech.

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