European elections: Nationalists look to build alliances

Beppe Grillo (left) meets Nigel Farage Image copyright UKIP
Image caption Nigel Farage met the leader of the Italian Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, to discuss potential co-operation

So the pitchfork army from the far right has stormed the barricades.

Well, not quite.

But five of the populist nationalist parties that won seats in the next European parliament have held a joint press conference in Brussels to declare their intentions.

On the podium were leaders from the Front National in France, the Party for Freedom (PVV) from the Netherlands, the Freedom Party (FPO) of Austria, the Lega Nord from Italy and the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) from Belgium.

They have won 38 seats between them. Out of 751. If it's an earthquake, the foundations of the parliament building are still standing.

Marine Le Pen of the Front National was the star of the show, and will be the clear leader of the new group the parties hope to form.

"The elections were a big success for us, absolutely historic," she said.

She brushed off accusations from the UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has described her party as racist. Mr Farage has emphasised repeatedly that he will have nothing to do with the Front National.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders held a joint news conference in Brussels

"He's being tactical," she said. "He wants to stay as the head of his group in parliament. Sorry, Nigel, we're forming our own group!"

Mr Farage, meanwhile, was meeting the leader of the Italian Five Star Movement, the former stand-up comedian, Beppe Grillo, to discuss the potential for co-operation.

"If we can come to an agreement, we could have fun causing a lot of trouble for Brussels," Mr Farage said.

But the anti-establishment vote in the next parliament will be fragmented. There will be frequent squabbles and constant bickering.

PVV leader Geert Wilders, who didn't do as well in the elections as he had originally hoped, said the five parties gathered in Brussels would announce further allies in the next few weeks.

That will enable them to reach the minimum requirement for forming a parliamentary group - seven parties from different countries with at least 25 MEPs between them.

Will they try to steal some would-be parliamentary allies of Mr Farage to finalise their group?

It's not impossible. Forming a group gives you access to funding and more speaking time to make your point.

"We want to establish a group of parties that fight for sovereignty for the nation-state," Mr Wilders said.

And one thing they are good at is making some noise.

They represent a significant chunk of voters - especially in France - who are disaffected with Europe.

We will be hearing more from them.