Dutch anti-mass migration firebrand Geert Wilders has slammed the European Parliament after it voted to lift parliamentary immunity from Front National leader and MEP Marine Le Pen, leaving her exposed to prosecution and imprisonment just weeks before the French presidential elections.
The decision to strip Ms Le Pen of the rights she holds as a member of the European Parliament just as commentators and politicians come to agree that she has a chance to win the elections in April has angered Wilders, who is a close ally of the Front National leader. Calling the vote “scandalous”, Mr. Wilders said, “Spreading the truth can now be prosecuted. Madness,” reports De Telegraaf.
The vote in the European Parliament on Thursday followed another on Tuesday, in which members of the Legal Affairs Committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of removing the protections for Ms Le Pen. While members of the parliament enjoy certain privileges that ordinary citizens do not — including favourable tax arrangements – including freedoms granting them immunity from politically-motivated prosecutions.
These rights can be revoked by a majority vote, however, which can leave anti-establishment politicians like Ms Le Pen exposed.
Thursday’s vote comes almost two years after Ms Le Pen took to Twitter to rebuke accusations that her party was like Islamic State — by posting images of actual images of the terror group’s atrocities. While Ms Le Pen had intended the images would illustrate the difference between a Western European political party and a murderous Islamist regime, they instead landed her in hot water as publishing such images in France is against the law.
Publishing “violent images” can carry a fine of €75,000 and up to three years in prison.
The vote was triggered after the French judiciary approached the European Parliament, allowing them to proceed with the case. The interference with the election campaign follows a raid on Front National offices by French police while Le Pen was out of the country last week, following accusations of a ‘fake jobs’ scandal in the European Parliament. Le Pen herself has refused to cooperate with any investigations until the election is over.
Speaking of the investigation, a party spokesman remarked: “This is obviously a media operation whose sole purpose is to attempt to disrupt the smooth running of the presidential election campaign and to try to harm Marine Le Pen at the very moment when her candidacy has made a major breakthrough in voting intentions, especially for the second round.”