Dapper in bow tie and blazer, Nigel Farage’s new European ally likes to welcome a woman to his grey-walled, grey-carpeted Brussels office by stooping to kiss her hand. There is a danger, though, that he will follow up this display of old-fashioned courtesy by sharing some old-fashioned views about her inferiority.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke is the eccentric head of Poland’s Congress of the New Right. With his agreement, a member of the party, Robert Iwaszkiewicz, has just joined Ukip’s parliamentary alliance, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), pushing it over a threshold of 25 parliamentarians from seven countries and thus securing more than £1m in funding for Ukip alone.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. But Korwin-Mikke has the potential to be an embarrassing ally. For instance, he thinks women’s opinions are shaped by the sperm of the men they sleep with, that they are “on average” less clever than men, and that nearly half of women who tell a man they don’t want to have sex with them are feigning reluctance and should be ignored.
“Semen probably is not wasted, because nature usually makes use of the material it has, and there is a hypothesis that the attitudes of men are passed to women by way of the semen which penetrates the tissue,” he told the Observer, in the tone a science teacher might use for a basic lesson.
Giggles only prompt an admonition. “It is not a political statement. There is a very strong argument for this hypothesis, that now when contraceptives are much more in use, the women become much more independent.”
Korwin-Mikke, 72, is an extreme libertarian. A veteran with half a century’s political experience, he throws out his bizarre views in rapid-fire sentences, broken by the easy smile of a man used to deference, which only makes them seem more disturbing. There is no proof Hitler knew about the Holocaust, he has argued for years, and he told the Observer that Mussolini, who stripped Jewish citizens of property and civil rights, then sent thousands to German concentration camps, “was trying to protect Jews”.
He would like to abolish not just the European Union but democracy altogether, replacing it with an absolute monarchy, which he considers the gold standard for government. His main objection to dictatorship is that it leaves open the question of who succeeds a leader.
He hungers for what he says is a lost Europe of dog-eat-dog economic rules, the freedom to buy arsenic over the counter by the kilo, drive without seatbelts and give free rein to the aggression that he says made the continent great. “If someone gives money to an unemployed person he should have his hand cut off because he is destroying the morale of the people,” Korwin-Mikke said, adding that the state should not give anyone a cent either. “Europeans were very aggressive and now the boys are taught not to be aggressive … Give them the pistol, give them a sword.”
Apparently practising what he preaches, this summer he slapped a leftwing Polish politician in the face. Shortly before the attack, France’s far-right Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, decided he was too extreme for an alliance. But now Korwin-Mikke’s party has come to the rescue of Ukip’s parliamentary alliance.
After a defection by a Latvian parliamentarian jeopardised access to speaking time in parliament and millions of euros in EU cash, Iwaszkiewicz joined the group, ensuring it held on to its funding. An EFDD spokesman said the Pole was invited and joined as an individual, and there was “no deal with any political party”, but both Iwaszkiewicz and his leader presented the move as a party decision, to the Observer and voters at home. “That is the only group which is organised and Eurosceptic in the parliament,” Iwaszkiewicz, a businessman-turned-politician, said in an interview in the corridors of parliament, as his aides scowled at Eurocrats tucking into a free buffet lunch. “That is why we wanted – not only me but all four MEPs of the Congress of the New Right – to help the EFDD to stay alive.”
Korwin-Mikke was gleeful about striking a deal with Ukip, although evasive about specifics, saying only that it might lead to more alliances in future. “If we create our own group, perhaps Mr Farage can lend us a member of his party also.”
Polish academic and anti-racism campaigner Rafal Pankowski dismissed the distinction between Iwaszkiewicz and his party as a false one. The MEP rode into parliament on the back of Korwin-Mikke’s outsize personality, and although he may take a slightly more moderate public stance, has never attempted to distance himself from his leader’s views.
“I have never found any indication of any kind of policy difference between them … on the contrary, he has often defended [Korwin-Mikke’s views] in public,” said Pankowski. “The bottom line is that he wouldn’t have been in the European party without the leader. People voted for the Korwin-Mikke party, hardly anyone knows Robert Iwaszkiewicz.”
Rabbi Shneur Odze, chairman of Ukip Friends of Israel and a party candidate for next year’s general election, said Korwin-Mikke was “not our responsibility” because he was not in the EFDD group. Iwaskiewicz’s only comment on Hitler “was that he was an evil man who should have been executed. Hardly a Holocaust denier,” he added.
But although Iwaszkiewicz is more circumspect, he has not rushed to repudiate his leader or clarify his own position. “I think many expressions of [Korwin-Mikke] are taken out of context and put in a bad light,” he said. Asked if he believed Hitler knew about the Holocaust, he would only say: “That is how I imagine it.”
The Congress of the New Right’s hardline economic views actually make it an uneasy bedfellow for Ukip on immigration issues. Korwin-Mikke wants all borders opened and the welfare state shut down, while Farage wants borders largely shut so at least parts of the welfare state can better serve those inside them.
The two parties share a more important goal though, both Polish politicians say. “He wants to destroy the European Union, and even Lucifer or Beelzebub who is against the European Union is our ally, because it is the greatest danger to Europe,” said Korwin-Mikke, who wants to convert part of the EU headquarters into a giant brothel.
“The building of the European commission is much better, there are small rooms,” he said, trailing off to glance around his small, dark office with a new, appraising eye.
Part of his distaste for modern Europe is driven by the position of women, who he says have replaced “privileges” with “equal rights”, a phrase Korwin-Mikke spat out as if it was an insult. Most want to stay at home to raise families, and can’t be trusted to vote, said the twice-married father of six. They are also, he claims, “less tall, less heavy, less intelligent, on the average”. And he adds: “Women usually vote for the more handsome man.”
Asked how German chancellor Angela Merkel had come to power in a country where women vote, he changed the topic to sports teams coached by men. “Women want to be led by men,” he claimed. They particularly like to be led to the bedroom, he added, saying that men should often ignore a partner who said no to sex. “Women usually pretend that they don’t want [sex]. You must be competent enough to differentiate whether she seriously doesn’t want,” he said. “The percentage of women who pretend that they don’t want to have sex, but they do want in fact, is about 30 or 40%.”
Asked how a rape trial could be prosecuted if a woman’s words were not accepted as evidence of her intentions, he said men should not be convicted unless there were two witnesses to the crime.
“If you don’t have two testimonies, he must be acquitted,” he said. “Or some proof or some visible sign of rape, but if it is only her words and his words, there cannot even be a trial.”