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Danish People's Party joins Tories in EU group

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Danish People's Party joins Tories in EU group
Morten Messerschmidt has gone from a racism conviction 12 years ago to the most personal votes in Danish election history. Photo: Europa-Parlamentet i Danmark
09:15 CEST+02:00
The Morten Messerschmidt-led party joins Finland's populist Finns in the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

The Danish People's Party (DPP), whose top MEP, Morten Messerschmidt, was convicted of racism in 2002 for saying multi-ethnic societies lead to gang rapes and violence, will bring four seats to the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) after becoming Denmark's largest party in the EU parliament. The party confirmed the alliance on Thursday.

"We wished to become part of the biggest possible group with the biggest possible influence," DPP spokesman Søren Søndergaard told AFP.

He praised British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party for seeking to create a model where "you can remain in the EU but under looser circumstances in some areas."

The party previously sat in the same group as Britain's anti-EU UKIP party, but said the ECR was a better fit since "the Danish People's Party does not
want to leave the EU."

Its most popular MEP by far is the charismatic Messerschmidt, who in 2002 was convicted of racism after the DPP's youth wing claimed in an advertisement that multi-ethnic societies led to "mass rapes, gross violence, insecurity, forced marriages, oppression of women (and) gang crime".

Messerschmidt received more personal votes in the EU Parliament election than any other politician in Danish history.

DPP will join another Nordic anti-immigrant party with an EU lawmaker who has a criminal conviction.

Finland's populist Finns party, which came third in the country's May 25 EU vote, will bring two seats to the eurosceptic group after also abandoning its UKIP alliance.

"I am pleased that we and our longtime allies, the DPP, will join the European Conservatives and Reformists group," Finns leader Timo Soini told the party's newspaper on Wednesday"Our group choice enables a strong participation in the work to renew the EU, aiming to reduce regulation and to limit the powers of the union."

"An influential and EU critical group is important in the defense of the member countries' independence," one of its two European lawmakers, Sampo Terho, said.

The other, Jussi Halla-aho, was in 2012 found guilty of incitement against an ethnic group after comparing Islam to paedophilia and depicting Somalis as inclined to stealing and living off welfare in a blog.

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