“By joining the ECR we give ourselves the means with this group to outstrip the Renew group of Emmanuel Macron, and thus to reduce the centrist influence in the European Parliament,” said Maréchal, the niece of Marine Le Pen, who leads a different far-right party, National Rally (which sits with the far-right Identity and Democracy — ID — group in the Parliament).
The move is a curious decision for ECR, as Reconquest — founded by firebrand French politician Eric Zemmour and whose name is a reference to the “Reconquista” period in European history when Christian states expelled Muslims from the Iberian peninsula — is considered to be more extreme than the National Rally. Le Pen has been on a years-long crusade to project herself as more moderate and ready to govern.
The addition of Bay could incur some risks for ECR, which has been flirting recently with the idea of accepting Hungary’s authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party MEPs into the group.
Roberts Zīle, the ECR’s sole vice-president of the Parliament, said: “I think personally definitely [having] a French party in the group from the power point of view, it’s an important issue.”
He clarified that the ECR group bureau of senior lawmakers agreed to take in Bay after receiving reassurances about his stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but that any decision about the Reconquest party formally joining the ECR will be taken after the election.
“Our ambitious objective is to move the center of gravity of the European Parliament to put an end to the majority bloc,” said Bay, who railed against “massive immigration,” “Islamization,” woke culture, and LGBT “activism” in his comments to reporters next to the Parliament hemicycle.