How are they still together? Analysing the Roots of Populist Radical Right Cooperation in the European Parliament.
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In this research I take a comparative approach to the populist radical right parties Vlaams Blok and Front National. These parties cooperate in Europe to this day but started their cooperation in the European Parliament in 1989, via the Technical Group of the European Right. Political scientists and historians have predicted that a cooperation between these parties was not to last, claiming that these parties had no common platform, and nationalist ideas would hamper their cooperation. These predictions did not come true, therefore I am researching whether I can identify a common platform by comparing the policy positions of Vlaams Blok and Front National. To do so I have analyzed speeches in the French, Belgian and European parliament by Vlaams Blok and Front National between 1984 and 1994. In this period Front National was first elected into the European Parliament and the period contained the first full term of cooperation between these parties. This period was also chosen because it covers the run up and signing of the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. This treaty had to be ratified and therefore forced both parties to take a clear position vis-à-vis the treaty. In three chapters, roughly representing the three pillars of policy areas of Post-Maastricht Europe, I analyze and conclude whether the policy positions of Vlaams Blok and Front National are similar. This means an analysis of both parties’ position on European citizenship, immigration, the free movement of people, economic and monetary integration, a common foreign policy and a European army. Both parties are heavily influenced by their nativist core, ensuring many similarities in the positions taken on the subjects above. This has allowed for a fruitful partnership as both parties agree on two essential topics: One, what should be the responsibility of a European body and which policy areas should be left to national governments and two, on how these European policy areas are to be implemented.