Austria scandal overshadows Salvini’s European nationalist rally May 19, 2019 0 521 12345 AFPMilanItalian populist leader Matteo Salvini on Saturday gathered Europe’s disparate nationalists for a unifying rally overshadowed by a major corruption scandal shaking Austria’s far-right coalition.The Milan rally hoped to see leaders of 12 far-right parties marching towards their conquest of Brussels after next week’s European parliamentary elections. Headliners Salvini of the anti-immigrant League and Marine Le Pen of France’s Islamophobic National Rally (RN) want their Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group to become the third largest in Brussels.“Stop the bureaucrats, bankers, do-gooders, migrant boats,” read one pro-Salvini banner. “Italy first,” read another as the speeches began. “Our battle is against totalitarianism: globalisation and Islamism,” Le Pen said ahead of the march.Hundreds gathered in a Milan park for an anti-fascist counter-demonstration - “Welcome migrants, expel Salvini,” read one banner - as the city’s central Duomo square filled with League supporters massed under a light rain to listen to leaders’ speeches. But explosive graft allegations against the leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) and vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache meant the party’s top candidate in next week’s elections pulled out of the Milan rally. Despite their shared dislike of immigration, multiculturalism, the left and the EU, Europe’s populists remain divided on many other key issues, including budgetary discipline, migrant distribution and relations with Moscow, as highlighted by the Austrian scandal.In Milan, Le Pen was forced to say that her party obeyed French party finance rules, which she called “strict” and “questionable” as they prevented the RN from borrowing money outside Europe.French lawmakers recently called for a probe into links between the RN and Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon after he discussed paying back a Russian loan to Le Pen’s party in a documentary.Most of Europe’s rightwing nationalists are currently divided into three blocs and a tangled web of alliances in the European Parliament–an institution Salvini and Le Pen would like to overhaul if not destroy. The ENF includes Austria’s Freedom Party, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, whose head Geert Wilders was also due in Milan.Notably absent from the rally is Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party and Poland’s governing PiS (Law and Justice party). Orban has voiced admiration for Salvini and promised “cooperation” after the vote, but refuses any alliance with Le Pen. He has his own problems after allegations from a rights group Saturday that his election landslide last year was marred by vote-rigging. RELATED ARTICLES Merkel urges Europe to stand up to politicians ‘for sale’ May 19, 2019 0 538 Biden holds US election kick-off rally amid Democrat attacks May 19, 2019 0 1596 Conservatives retain power in ‘miracle’ Australian elections May 19, 2019 0 821 Brexit legislation needs to include public vote: Labour’s Starmer LONDON: The British government’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill needs to include another public vote when it is presented to lawmakers again next month, the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer .. Austrian far-right leader resigns over ‘Ibiza affair’ Vienna: Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, a key figure of the European far-right, resigned Saturday after explosive revelations from a hidden camera sting, just days before key EU elections. “I .. Thousands of Poles, including Tusk, hold pro-EU rally before vote AFP Warsaw European Council chief Donald Tusk on Saturday joined thousands at a pro-Europe opposition rally in Warsaw, calling on his fellow Poles to vote against the eurosceptic governing conservatives in this .. British royals celebrate third wedding in 12 months London: The British royal family gathered for its third Windsor Castle wedding in a year as Lady Gabriella Windsor tied the knot on Saturday, with Queen Elizabeth II watching on. Windsor, 38, the daughter of the monarch’s .. Venezuela’s Maduro hails start of Norway-brokered talks with oppn Caracas: President Nicolas Maduro welcomed Friday the “beginning of talks” with the Venezuelan opposition in Norway, after months of bloody clashes between the two sides. “The talks have begun nicely to move toward .. N Korea demands UN action over ship seizure by ‘gangster’ US AFP Seoul North Korea has demanded the United Nations take “urgent measures” to help return a cargo ship taken by the United States, calling the seizure a “heinous” act. Washington announced last week it had taken ..