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Europe's populists form right-wing alliance ahead of EU elections

European populists join hands
Populist leaders of Finland, Germany, Italy and Denmark join hands at the announcement of a new euroskeptic alliance. Photo: Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced the formation of a new populist alliance — titled the "European Alliance of Peoples and Nations" — that will compete in next month's European Parliament elections on an anti-migration, pro-borders platform.

The big picture: Salvini, with whom fellow nationalist Steve Bannon has forged a close relationship, will be joined by euroskeptic parties from Germany, Finland, Denmark, France, Austria and the Netherlands. May's elections will be the first since the 2016 Brexit referendum, and will be a test for an EU threatened from within by newly empowered strands of anti-migrant nationalism.

  • "As interior minister for 10 months, the No. 1 risk in Italy and Europe is Islamic extremism, Islamic fanaticism, Islamic terrorism," Salvini declared at the press conference.
  • Salvini said if the group wins a parliamentary majority, it would seek to block the process of Turkey — a Muslim-majority country — joining the EU.

What to watch: One of Europe's most notorious nationalist parties, Hungary's Fidesz, was recently suspended from the powerful, center-right European People's Party for "rule of law" violations. If Fidesz and its ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Vikor Orbán decide to leave the EPP for good, the Salvini-led alliance would be a likely landing spot.

Go deeper: Europe's future on the ballot