The chief political aide of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front party and candidate for the French presidential election, has just been put under investigation by French magistrates. If the charges are correct, the National Front leader has been cheating on European Parliament expenses to pay her bodyguard and her chief political aide for jobs that they didn't do.
This may sound strange. The National Front, like other European far-right parties, is virulently hostile to the European Union - so why is it able to use EU resources to build itself up? But the National Front is far from unique. Far-right parties hate the EU - yet without it, many of them would have died. They advocate radical changes to the EU - or outright withdrawal from it. Yet without the support of the EU, they almost certainly would have a far weaker voice in national politics.
Many far-right parties rely on Europe both for elected positions and for money.
The first key resource that Europe offers to far-right parties is the chance to get elected. Far-right parties often have a tough time getting launched into politics. They are not part of the political mainstream, which means that they may face a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.
Read the full post at the New Zealand Herald.