Europe’s far-right parties are holding their first-ever “counter-summit” in Germany

The company they keep.
The company they keep.
Image: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
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Right-wing, nationalist parties are on the rise all across Europe.

They include France’s Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, who polls suggest will make it to the second round of in the presidential race this year; Austria’s Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Freedom Party), whose presidential candidate Norbert Hofer made it to the runoff in December (paywall); Italy’s Lega Nord (the Northern League), whose leader Matteo Salvini is a strong anti-Europe advocate and known for insulting minorities; and Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), which has triumphed in regional elections and is a strong opponent of chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies.

They are gaining strength across the continent, sharing a sense of populist resentment, an intolerance of immigration, and an opposition to what they perceive as the European establishment.

That these parties recognized one another as kin was clear from meetings between leaders and congratulatory messages exchanged in the context of electoral successes—Le Pen visited the New York home of US president-elect Donald Trump last week, though reports conflict on whether it was a welcome visit or not.

And it seems they are ready to take a step forward to signal a veritable coalition, beginning with a first-of-its-kind meeting in Koblenz, Germany on Saturday, Jan 21. The meeting will gather representatives of nationalist parties including from Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The AfD branded the event a “European counter-summit.”

About 1,000 delegates are expected to take part to the summit, including Le Pen and Geert Wilders, the Dutch head of the popular Partij voor de Vrijheid (Freedom Party) who was recently convicted of inciting hatred.

The mainstream media, including Germany’s Der Spiegel and several daily publications, will be banned. Marcus Pretzell, a member of AfD and the organizer of the event, said the media was not being allowed in because they were biased against the parties represented in the summit and wouldn’t publish truthful reports.

Sound like anyone else we know?