Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule left #EFDD group today. #EFDD no longer has members from at least 7 countries, so declared dissolved today. #EP
— Jaume Duch (@jduch) October 16, 2014
The Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group has collapsed following the departure of Latvian MEP Iveta Grigule, of the Latvian Farmers' Union. We don't know yet what pushed Grigule to leave. Sources from the EFDD group are already circulating their version of what happened:
EFDD sources say Latvian MEP was 'bribed' by @MartinSchulz and @EPPGroup to leave @Nigel_Farage group
— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) October 16, 2014
However, what we know is that Grigule's decision means UKIP, the Five-Star Movement and the other parties that had joined the group will lose a few millions of EU funding. According to our estimates, the EFDD group could have claimed around €3.8 million a year (see here for more details).
As we noted in our previous blog posts, it was not obvious that Farage's group would see through the whole five-year term in the European Parliament - not least because of the differences between UKIP and the Five-Star Movement, the two biggest factions in the group. Still, today's announcement has come a bit out of the blue.
In any case, given UKIP's growing momentum in domestic politics (victorious in the Clacton by-election and riding high in the latest opinion polls), we doubt Farage will be crying into his pint over losing his group in the European Parliament.
It's hard to predict what will happen next. For the moment, MEPs from the dissolved EFDD group will sit as non-attached members - the same status as Marine Le Pen's Front National, Lega Nord and Geert Wilders's Freedom Party, who failed to form their own group during the summer.
Will they all start discussing a possible cooperation? Will any of the (former) EFDD parties look to join forces with Le Pen, allowing her to form a new group? Or will Farage manage to quickly find a substitute for Grigule and re-establish the EFDD group? Time will tell.