PVV ex-MEP: Teaming up with extremists a bad idea

European Parliamentarian and predicted frontrunner for the PVV, Lucas Hartong, pulled his candidacy for the upcoming elections because he doesn't want to work together with 'bad characters' from extremist parties such as the French National Front and the Austrian FPÖ.

In an interview with the Volkskrant on Thursday, Hartong says: "I have always distanced myself from extreme elements. It's difficult to navigate if you start working with those."

Geert Wilders has been on somewhat of a recruitment campaign throughout Europe, traveling to various places to gather support among other right-wing nationalistic parties. He invited Marine La Pen, front-woman for France's far-right National Front, to The Hague to underline their understanding.

Cooperation with the PVV is very important for the National Front, according to Marine Le Pen. Parties from seven countries are necessary for a fraction in the European Parliament. The National Front is now in partnership with the PVV as well as Vlaams Belang, the FPÖ and the Swedish Democrats. "We are still lacking some parties, but I am convinced that it will work", Le Pen said at a press conference.

Wilders has spoken to all these parties on his Europe trip, as well as with the Italian Lega Nord. His line of thought is that the only way something useful will happen in the European Parliament is with a strong fraction.

Lucas Hartong is the first PVV member who has voiced a worried opinion about collaboration with "neo-nazis and those kinds of people." "The FPÖ remains a party that has been set up by ex-SS'ers, you can't go around that. And one f the people from the Swedish Democrats brought he Hitler salute. He has since been booted from the party, but still. That was one of the reasons for me to take distance. That doesn't sit well with me" Hartong says.

Hartong was bumped up to candidate-frontrunner after the departure of Laurence Stassen, who left because she was at odds with the "fewer Moroccans" comments of Geert Wilders. Hartong doesn't have a problem with said comments, because they were nuanced by Wilders later. He will not break with the PVV.

Wilders has always emphasized that he does not have any interest in far-right wing ideas. The suggestion from Alexander Pechtold of the D66 last year in the House of Representatives that Nazi flags were being waved at a PVV-demonstration in The Hague made Wilders very angry.

Furthermore, Wilders emphasizes that Marine Le Pen does not toe her father's extremist line. Nevertheless, Hartong does not think he can work with her. "I can't explain it anymore in my personal circle, that I'm in a fraction together with papa Le Pen. I can't work normally with these dubious types.

Marine Le Pen wants to avoid expressing racist or xenophobic language, such as the anti-semitic traps her father fell in, and the "fewer Moroccans" line from Wilders. She does not, however, see that as a reason to re-think the collaboration with Wilders' PVV in European Parliament, according to her spokesperson Ludovic de Danne.