Poland’s newly elected MEP is anti-EU, anti-democracy, pro-Putin and, by his own account, anti-women. The 72-year-old led his party New Right to fourth place in the elections, with 7.2% of the vote. He also gained 28.5% of votes among 18- to 25-year-olds – more than any other party.
His persistence seems to be paying off: Korwin-Mikke has run in just about every election – presidential and parliamentary – in post-communist Poland. But apart from a brief stint in parliament in the early 1990s, he had previously never made much headway, always ending up with less than 3%.
A colourful and abrasive character, Korwin-Mikke makes Milton Friedman look like a socialist.
He favours a Dickensian-era style of capitalism in which there would be no labour laws and market forces could operate unhindered. He calls the EU a “communist project” which is run by “Maoists like Barroso” and has said he would like to put the European commission building to better use by “turning it into a brothel”.
He has said that “women are dumber than men and should not be allowed to vote”. “Evolution has ensured that women are not too intelligent. After all, no intelligent being would last more than an hour a day with a baby and all its goo-goo ga-ga gibberish,” said Korwin-Mikke, who also happens to be a champion bridge player.
He is similarly derisive of democracy, calling it the “stupidest form of government ever conceived”, favouring a monarchy instead. He has said he will spend no longer than 18 months in the European parliament as he now hopes to cross the 5% threshold needed to get into the Polish parliament in elections scheduled for next year.
When asked by journalists why, then, he even bothered to fight these elections, Korwin-Mikke replied: “What do you mean why? Thanks to this I will have immunity, some money and I can get myself an MEP office.” He promised, though, that during his first three months in the European parliament “I will raise so much hell that they will remember me there for a long time”.Greek resistance hero, politician and writer Manolis Glezos addressing supporters during a rally of the Left Coalition Party in central Athens. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
Not all the new MEPs are far-right, xenophobic and anti-Europe. Manolis Glezos, the new European parliament’s oldest deputy, is a 92-year-old second world war hero, leftwing icon, inveterate writer and indefatigable activist. On Monday, he added another feather to his cap, winning more votes (105,184) than any other Euro parliamentarian on Greece’s 21-MEP ticket. He doesn’t tweet, doesn’t type and insists on taking an afternoon nap every day – a legacy of being exiled and imprisoned for 16 years for his views. “That way I get two days out of one,” he once told the Guardian. “I start at 7am stop at 3pm, start again at 5pm and go all the way through to midnight. I get a tremendous amount done.”
Famous for ripping down the swastika from the Acropolis within days of Nazi forces overrunning Greece, Glezos is also considered the greatest living authority on the resistance movement against Hitler’s occupying forces, penning two voluminous tomes (both running to more than 800 pages) on the period.
As the anti-austerity, radical-left Syriza party’s top representative in Brussels, he does not intend to put down his pen. The anti-capitalist has a lot to say in the 766-seat parliament – not least about Germany’s “colonisation” of Europe. “Greece is the guinea pig of policies exacted by governments whose only God is money,” he said. “It started here but will move to other states … people are clearly reacting and we have to give voice to them.” Doing that will not be as easy as it sounds.
The intrepid Glezos has one fear: flying. On doctors’ orders he will not be able to join other MEPs on the Athens-Brussels plane route. But he has already come up with a contingency plan – and has boat timetables and bus timetables at the ready.Alessandra Mussolini is the grand-daughter of the fascist Italian leader Benito Mussolini. Photograph: Laura Lezza/Getty Images
Niece of Sophia Loren and granddaughter of Il Duce, Mussolini has had a career as colourful as her ancestry. She has posed topless for Playboy, played a nun in a critically derided film, and played a vocal role in far- and centre-right Italian politics since the early 90s. Now, 10 years after she was first elected an MEP for her (now defunct) Social Alternative list, she is to return to the European parliament – this time for Silvio Berlusconi’s beleaguered Forza Italia (FI) party.
Mussolini, 51, has never been short of an opinion, no matter how offensive. The far-right group in Europe of which she was a member broke up in 2007 after comments she made about crime rates among Romanians provoked a storm of protest – unsurprisingly – among her colleagues in the Greater Romania party. In 2006, responding to an accusation by a transgender MP candidate that she was a fascist, she declared: “Better fascist than faggot.”
Occasionally, however, sharp tongue has won her plaudits from beyond her usual fanbase. When, in 2004, Ukip’s Godfrey Bloom remarked that “no self-respecting small businessman with a brain … would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age,” she reportedly retorted: “I am from Naples and I can say that we women do know how to cook and clean the fridge and even be politicians, while perhaps Godfrey Bloom knows neither how to clean the fridge nor to be a politician.”Bruno Gollnisch was defeated by Marine Le Pen for the Front National presidency in 2011. Photograph: Bruno Vigneron/Getty Images
Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliamentMarine Le Pen has done her best to put in place a slick, media-friendly operation since taking over as head of the Front National. But in the south-east region where her racist father, Jean-Marie Le Pen was elected in Sunday’s European elections, another old-style FN politician was re-elected alongside the Front National founder: Gollnisch, who was defeated by Le Pen’s daughter for the FN presidency in 2011.
Gollnisch, 64, is a former academic who is a regional councillor in the southeastern Rhone-Alpes and has served consecutive mandates as an MEP since 1989. But like Le Pen senior – who last week said the French immigration problem could be solved “in three months” by an Ebola virus outbreak – he is a potential embarrassment for the new-look FN. He is an outspoken critic of Islam who had his parliamentary immunity lifted in May 2011 when he was sued for inciting racial hatred in anti-Islamic comments three years earlier.
In February last year, he dropped his trousers and mooned at a regional council meeting in order to protest at state subsidies being given to certain musical bands who sang about sex. He said afterwards that he wanted to “show disapproval of the region’s cultural decisions.”
In August last year, he provoked a spat with the Socialist party over a personal attack on party spokesman Eduardo Rihan Cypel, who is of Brazilian origin. Gollnisch said Rihan Cypel reminded him of “people that you invite round, and once they settle in, they want to bring everybody round”.Mario Borghezio last year called the Italian government a ‘bongo bongo’ administration. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images
Last year, Borghezio called the Italian government a “bongo bongo” administration and black minister Cécile Kyenge more “a housekeeper” than a politician – resulting in an expulsion from the rightwing Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, to which Italy’s xenophobic Northern League belongs. He complained of having been the victim of a “grotesque persecution” by Nigel Farage, co-chair of the EFD, who branded his words repugnant. But, after another tub-thumbing, immigrant-bashing election campaign, Borghezio could be back.
The 66-year-old veteran of the Italian right was standing in the central region of Italy and thanked the “good guys” of a far-right group, Casa Pound, for having helped him with the logistics of his campaign. (Among other high points, it saw him hand out bread “for our people” in a strongly multicultural area of Rome, and be shouted down at a primary school’s gates by angry mothers. “Those two witches brought me good luck,” he told online news site Linkiesta.)
Borghezio’s comments about Kyenge (whom he accused of trying impose her “tribal traditions” on Italy) got him in hot water last year, but it was hardly his first offence. He has described Ratko Mladic, accused of genocide, as “a patriot”, and praised some of the ideas of Anders Bering Breivik, perpetrator of the 2011 Norwegian attacks, as “excellent”.
In Brussels, Borghezio could be joined by Gianluca Buonanno, a fellow leghista who has his own long list of greatest hits. In January, he smeared his face with black greasepaint in the national parliament in a protest against supposed prejudice against Italians. On 1 April – known in Italy as “April’s fish” – he contributed to a debate on illegal immigration by pulling out a sea bass from under his seat in the chamber and waving it vigorously. Last year he reportedly produced a fennel bulb during a parliamentary debate on gay rights. In Italian, the word for fennel is also used as a derogatory term for gay men.Martin Sonneborn has a reputation as someone who pushes political satire to its limits. Photograph: Timur Emek/Getty Images
His party campaigned with such incisive slogans as “Merkel is stupid” and “Hands off German willies: No to the EU penis-norm”, and proposed building a wall around Switzerland. Yet in Germany, its dadaist election campaign seems to have struck a chord. Europe’s only purely satirical party managed to gain 0.6% of the overall vote and will send its first MEP to Brussels. Sonneborn, a former editor of satirical magazine Titanic, has already announced plans to resign after a month: “I will spend my first four weeks in Brussels by intensively preparing for my resignation,” he said. “We have a rota of 60 candidates who haven’t earned a penny in national politics, and I will make sure they’ll all get a go on the gravy train before 2019.”
He told The Guardian said he was looking forward to meeting Ukip: “We are planning to create an alliance of idiots and fools, which I think has a lot of potential with the new crop of MEPs. Nigel Farage would fit very well into this new group, and I would herewith like to extend an invitation to him.”
In Germany, Sonneborn has a reputation as someone who pushes political satire to its limits. In the late 90s he repeatedly impersonated fictitious candidates from real parties like the German Social Democrats, the liberal FDP and the far-right DVU, often campaigning with deliberate offensive slogans that highlighted the respective parties’ prejudices. During the 2005 general election campaign, he auctioned off slots in the party’s political ads for product placement.
Asked whether satirising politics was still funny at a time when the European parliament was increasingly filled with politicians like Farage or Beppe Grillo, who didn’t take the political processes in Brussels seriously in the first place, Sonneborn said: “The party pursues modern turbo politics with other people’s ideas. Our manifesto may not be authentic, but our appetite for power is”.In the past Udo Voigt has described Hitler as ‘a great German statesman’. Photograph: Morris Mac Matzen/Reuters
Germany’s first far-right MEP has praised Hitler as a “great statesman” and suggested that Rudolf Hess should win the Nobel peace prize. Voigt, 61, is a former head of the NPD, an organisation that Germany’s interior intelligence service classifies as a far-right extremist party. During his leadership from 1996 to 2011, Voigt took the party into a more aggressively nationalist direction, prompting a failed attempt to outlaw the party by Germany’s federal court in 2003. A renewed attempt, arguing that its ideology is identical to that of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, is ongoing.
The son of a former Wehrmacht officer, Voigt joined the NPD aged 16, and held on to his membership even when it cost him his job in the military services. After he took over the NPD leadership in 1996, he openly recruited younger neo-nazis to the organisation, against the will of other party members.
In a 2004 interview with the rightwing newspaper Junge Freiheit, Voigt described Hitler as “a great German statesman”, and the current democratic German republic as “an illegitimate system”.
In 2005, Voigt received a four-month suspended sentence for incitement of the people, after calling for an armed uprising against the state at a 1998 rally. Police video recordings in 2007 showed that Voigt planned to suggest Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, as a candidate for the Nobel peace prize.
In December 2007, an investigation on German TV showed an interview Voigt had given to a group of Iranian journalists, in which he claimed that “no more than 340,000″ Jews had died in the Holocaust, as opposed to the six million figure that is accepted by most historians.
In 2012 a Berlin court handed Voigt a 10-month suspended sentence and a fine of €1,000 for glorifying the actions of the Waffen-SS at a party meeting in 2010. He has described the Nazi salute as a “peace greeting” and called for an end to its ban in Germany.
After election results were released, Voigt hailed the “breaking up of old political structures in Europe”. “We will try to build alliances to fight against foreign infiltration, and seek the cancellations of the Schengen agreement and the proposed transatlantic trade agreement. We want Europe to be a union of fatherlands and ethnicities.”
Voigt said he had recently been invited to Strasbourg by the British National party’s Nick Griffin to discuss far-right alliances, and that talks were ongoing with parties including France’s Front National, Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn.
He said he was saddened by the BNP’s failure to win a seat but was looking forward to talking to other parties from Britain: “It’s now up to Ukip to say if they want to work with us.”
Voigt said the election result had been “a success, though perhaps not a total success”. His party had gained 1% of the vote in Germany, 0.3% less than at the general election last year and less than other minor splinter parties, such as the Animal Rights party. At previous European elections, the NPD had failed to gain more than the prerequisite 3% hurdle quota, which was abolished for the first time at this year’s election.