Germany and Austria's nationalist party leaders discuss collaboration

The leaders of Germany and Austria's nationalist parties met on Friday to coordinate efforts as they try to seize on the electoral gains and surging poll numbers that have rattled mainstream parties in their countries.

The talks taking place on the Zugspitze - Germany's highest peak near its border with Austria - provided an opportunity to "look down at the German and Austrian political landscapes from above," a statement from Alternative for Germany (AfD) said.

Speaking after the meeting on Friday, AfD head Frauke Petry said that her meeting with the Austrian Freedom Party's Heinz-Christian Strache was meant to "galvanize the EU-critical movement in Europe and pool our strengths in the EU parliament."

"Together, we want to move forward to reach new political heights," she said.

Strache, meanwhile, said that he wanted to help the AfD - which was launched in 2013 as a classically liberal party promoting the dissolution of the euro and a decentralized EU - to reach the same levels of sustained success as his Freedom Party in Austria.

The populist parties have been buoyed by the continent's migrant crisis, sluggish economic growth and growing disillusionment with the European Union.

The Freedom Party's Norbert Hofer narrowly lost to Alexander Van der Bellen in a presidential election earlier this month, but it was the first time that the right-wing party came close to gaining nearly half of the popular vote.

The AfD, meanwhile, has also made significant gains in recent months and is now represented in half of Germany's 16 state parliaments.

There is growing support for nationalist parties in a number of European countries including France, Poland and Hungary. Policy overlap includes protectionist economic policies, a clamp-down on government benefits for migrants and strengthening national borders.

Both Petry and Strache have announced their intention to collaborate with France's right-wing Front National.

Strache has invited its leader, Marine Le Pen, to speak at an event dubbed "Patriotic Spring" on the topic of "cooperation on peace, security and prosperity in Europe." It will take place near Vienna on June 17.

Last update: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 14:58
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