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The Tories' new EU allies

David Cameron and Mirek Topolanek
David Cameron has made common cause with ex-Czech PM Mirek Topolanek

The Conservative Party has said the new European Parliament bloc it has formed will be "good for European democracy".

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group includes 55 MEPs from across eight member states.

It was set up after Tory Leader David Cameron pledged to cut the Conservatives' ties with the centre-right European People's Party grouping during his 2005 Conservative leadership campaign.

To form a new group in the European Parliament and access EU funding, the Conservatives had needed to attract a minimum of 25 MEPs from at least seven states.

Here we profile the parties whom the Tories will now sit alongside in Brussels and Strasbourg.

CIVIC DEMOCRATIC PARTY (ODS)

Previously members of the EPP group, they won nine seats in the European Parliament election, up from eight in 2004, with 31.5% of the vote in the Czech Republic.

The centre-right ODS is the party of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, and also the former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who was forced to resign after a vote of no confidence in the Czech Parliament in March 2009. Along with the British Conservatives, the ODS were one of the founding members of the Movement for European Reform, the campaign which was the forerunner of the new European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

Politically, the ODS defines itself as right-of-centre and liberal/conservative. President Klaus has caused controversy internationally by arguing that climate change is a "false myth". Ex-Prime Minister Topolanek hit the headlines after photographs were published showing him naked at a party hosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

LAW AND JUSTICE PARTY (PiS)

Big winners in the June elections, gaining eight MEPs and nearly doubling their share of the vote. They currently have 15 MEPs. Prior to joining the new grouping, they were members of the Union for a Europe of the Nations (UEN).

A right-wing grouping based on a law-and-order platform, they represent a right-wing electorate which favours a traditional social order, a free-market economy, a strong and wholesome state and a fight against crime and corruption. PiS was created in 2001 and under the leadership of former PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski. In opposition, they struggled to develop an effective strategy. However, from 2008 they began to tone down their aggressive rhetoric in a revamp of the party to be more consensual and more on the centre ground.

LATVIAN NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT (TB/LNNK)

Prior to joining the European Conservatives they were members of the right-wing UEN. They were the leading party in the 2004 European elections, but went from three MEPs to one and lost over 20% of the vote. They are currently part of the five-party governing coalition in Latvia, holding the Ministry for economics. The party sparked controversy after the press reported that some of its members celebrate Latvian collaboration with the Waffen-SS against the Russians during WWII. The Conservatives say the commemorations were for all Latvians who had fought in wars, that other mainstream Latvian parties had attended and that the troops in question had been conscripted. The party pushed for more stringent nationality laws in the 1990s and considers that the Russian-speaking minority must uphold Latvia's independence and speak Latvian before to be granted citizenship.

HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM (MDF)

MDF retained a single MEP, Lajos Bokros, in June's elections, holding onto 5.3% of the vote. Prior to joining the new group, they were members of the EPP. They were founded in 1987 and are a liberal conservative party. On their website, they say that they represent the values of "Family", "Modern Conservatism", "Private Property", "National Traditions", "Constitutionality", "European Christian Culture" and "Sustainable Development".

DUTCH CHRISTIAN UNION (CHRISTENUNIE)

They currently have one MEP but they stood on a joint list with another party in the 2009 elections. As a collective unit, they marginally increased their share of the vote, giving them two MEPs. ChristenUnie are a small Christian party with a religious agenda and are members of the ruling coalition in the national parliament. They have always opposed abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. Their leader, Andre Rouvoet, took up the youth and family affairs ministerial portfolio in the coalition. They were previously part of the Independence & Democracy grouping.

LIJST DEDECKER (DEDECKER LIST) Dedecker

Gained representation in the European Parliament for the first time in 2009, winning one MEP and 4.6% of the vote in Belgium.

The Dedecker List was founded in January 2007 by Jean-Marie Dedecker, a senator who had been expelled from the Flemish Liberals and Democrats. Against expectations it won five seats in the June 2007 election to the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and one seat in the Senate. It argues for smaller government and greater independence for the Flanders region of Belgium.

The party's number one candidate in the European Parliament election, Derk Jan Eppink, had already indicated that he would be interested in joining the new European Conservatives group.

FINNISH CENTRE PARTY (KESK)

Only one MEP from the party will join the new group - the others sit with the liberal ALDE. The Centre Party's three seats in the 2009 election was down from four it won in 2004.

KESK is the party of the country's Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen. Politically, it developed from the old Agrarian Party, and its ideology remains rooted in decentralisation and ecological sustainability.



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EUROPEAN ELECTION RESULTS

MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
KEY STORIES
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Nigel Farage UKIP: A hell of an achievement

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