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Le Pen and Salvini vow to storm Brussels ‘bunker’ in EU elections

Alberto Pizzoli, AFP | Matteo Salvini (left) and Marine Le Pen are hoping to upset the balance of power in the European Parliament in 2019.

France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen joined Italy’s firebrand Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in Rome on Monday to launch their campaign for European parliamentary elections with an attack on the "Brussels bunker" they plan to storm.

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Speaking with Le Pen by his side, Salvini said the May vote to elect members of the European Parliament would signal a “common sense revolution” across the continent.

The head of Italy's anti-immigrant League party has taken a hardline anti-immigrant stance since coming to power in June and has recently shifted the focus to social issues, including Italy's low birth-rate.

His party won 17 percent of votes in March, and opinion polls suggest it would win as much as 30 percent should the country head to the polls again.

"The real challenge is the fight against insecure employment, unemployment... the empty cots," said Salvini, once more attacking EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who have decried the upcoming Italian budget for increasing spending and the deficit.

"Europe's enemies are those cut off in the bunker of Brussels […] The Junckers, the Moscovicis, who brought insecurity and fear to Europe and refuse to leave their armchairs,” said Salvini.

The hardline minister said he paid attention to the warnings of stock markets and analysts, though adding: “If a budget proposal, such as ours, puts the right to work, health, life, retirement at its heart, then it should take precedence.”

A warning to Bannon

Salvini’s words were echoed by Le Pen, the head of France's National Rally, formerly known as the National Front.

"We're not fighting against Europe but against the European Union that has become a totalitarian system," she said.

"We are today at an historic moment. History with a capital 'H' will be written in May. It will be the emergence of a Europe of nations," she added.

Le Pen, Salvini and other far-right anti-immigrant parties hope to upset the balance in the European parliament after the May vote.

However, the French far-right leader distanced herself from US President Donald Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon, who has shared platforms with several of Europe’s hard-right leaders, including Salvini, in recent months.

"Bannon is not European. He is American," Le Pen said, responding to Bannon’s plans for a Brussels-based foundation called "The Movement" to spark a populist right-wing revolt across the region.

"It is we, and we only, who will shape the political force resulting from European elections," Le Pen added. “Let that be very clear."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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