Le Pen to form a far right bloc in European Parliament
France's far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen told a Sunday paper she expects her party to get enough votes in the May 22-25 European elections to form a bloc with other Eurosceptics that can stop the European Union's progress.
The Front, which has three representatives in the European Parliament, hopes to get 15 to 20 European MPs, Le Journal du Dimanche quoted her as saying.
"We take part [in the election] to block the progress of the European project," Le Pen said.
Le Pen wants to drop the euro, is against the free movement of people in the union, and wants national sovereignty to take precedence over European legislation.
She said that many people do not vote in European elections because they are against the EU, but that this is the opposite of what they should do.
"We are going to the very place we need to be ... a minority bloc that prevents more austerity and more loss of substance for France," she said.
The May election is expected to produce a surge in support for anti-EU parties on both the left and right, with some projections suggesting around a quarter of the 751 seats in the parliament could go to non-mainstream parties.
At a joint news conference in the Netherlands in November, Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders and Le Pen called for the creation of a new political group in the European Parliament after the May elections.
Their appeal was quickly rebuffed by Britain's Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP).
A bloc must have at least 25 seats and include parties from at least seven countries. Without UKIP, the Front and the Freedom Party may struggle to reach the seven-country threshold.
But Le Pen said the Front has cooperated for many years with Austria's FPO, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats. She said she expected other parties - like Italy's Northern League and Fratelli d'Italia - to join after the election.
"I have no doubt. There will be a group," she said.