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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 16:12 GMT
European far-right bloc collapses
Alessandra Mussolini
Remarks by Ms Mussolini angered the Romanian delegation
The European parliament's far-right bloc has collapsed after five Romanian MEPs resigned over an Italian colleague's "xenophobic" remarks.

Italian MEP Alessandra Mussolini, the grand-daughter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, reportedly described Romanians as "habitual law-breakers".

Italy recently expelled 20 Romanians following a spate of violent crimes.

The resignations take the bloc's membership below the minimum required for a grouping in the parliament.

The European parliament only grants official status to political groups that can claim a minimum of 20 members from at least five countries.

The withdrawal of the Romanian MEPs leaves the far-right bloc - known as Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS) - with 18 members, effectively disqualifying it.

ITS was created in January, after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU boosted the number of far-right MEPs in the European parliament.

Anti-Roma platform

The row erupted last week when the Greater Romania party MEPs accused Ms Mussolini of insulting Romanians, citing a newspaper interview she had given in which she said "breaking the law has become a way of life for Romanians".

From left: Petre Popeanga, Bruno Gollnisch and Philip Claeys
The ITS group united far-right MEPs from across Europe
The newspaper also quoted Ms Mussolini as saying Italians saw little difference between Romanian immigrants and Roma (Gypsies).

A statement from the Greater Romania party MEPs, circulated by e-mail in the European parliament shortly after, said the party could have no further dealings with Ms Mussolini.

The Greater Romania party has itself campaigned on a fiercely nationalistic, anti-Roma platform.

The main groups in the European parliament have largely refused to co-operate with the ITS.

The announcement of the group's demise was reportedly greeted with applause when it was announced at the assembly in Strasbourg.

"This collection of unsavoury European politicians were united only by hatred - be it of other races, nationalities, sexualities or, ironically, the EU," British Green MEP Jean Lambert was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

"It was only a matter of time before they succumbed to a hatred of each other as well."



SEE ALSO
New EU countries boost far-right
12 Jan 07 |  BBC Parliament
British MEP joins far-right bloc
11 Jan 07 |  UK Politics

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