Unleash the Libertas! The pan-European party is revealed… er… well no, but it will be… soon. Candidates and policies and all… December 12, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics.
Got to say I was surprised by how thin the Libertas news event. As spoilers go it wasn’t up there, now was it? Here is the text of the press release on the Libertas site:
Brussels, 11 December – Libertas will contest the European elections in 2009 on a Pan-European basis, its chairman Declan Ganley announced today.
Speaking to a packed Press Conference at Libertas’ newly opened European Headquarters in Brussels, Mr. Ganley said that Libertas would field candidates across the European Union on a common pro-European platform of democracy, accountability and transparency.
Mr. Ganley stated that Europeans have reached a crossroads: “If people want a strong and healthy Europe that is democratic and answerable to them, they should vote for a Libertas candidate. If they do not want Europe to succeed or if they are happy with the current undemocratic practises, then they should vote for an incumbent party. For those who weren’t given a vote on the Lisbon Treaty, this will be their referendum”.
Libertas will run candidates in every country where the candidates are of a high standard, committed to the Libertas’s pro-European stance and its platform of democracy, accountability and transparency aimed at bring European back to the people.
A detailed policy document will be published in the coming months, and candidates’ names will be unveiled over a similar time frame.
The Libertas announcement coincides with the European summit where the Irish government will announce a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
According to Mr. Ganley: “The Irish government and the powerful elite in Brussels are showing utter contempt for the democratic decision of the Irish people in rejecting the Lisbon Treaty. Not one sentence will change in a “new version”. Some non-legally binding texts will be added in an attempt to fool the people. They tried this with the French, they tried with the Dutch, they are trying with the Irish. It’s time to put a stop to this bullying.”
Incidentally if one takes up the offer on the Libertas.eu site…
Our 2009 European Parliament election campaign is underway….Click on your country page to see how you can get involved.
It comes as something of a disappointment to find the following formulation…
Welcome to the Libertas Czech Republic page. As our Czech campaign progresses, we will be updating you here.
Be part of changing the futures of the Czech Republic and Europe!
For the Czech Republic, Libertas is seeking:
* high calibre candidates for the European Parliament elections in June 2009
* donations to Libertas Czech Republic’s campaign
* organisational or communications support for running the Libertas election campaign in the Czech Republic
If you are interested, or have any questions, please e mail email@example.com
We want to hear from you!
With similar messages under Cyprus, Germany, the Netherlands and so on and so forth. So far the ‘pan’ bit isn’t quite meshing with the European.
Otherwise there is the text of Ganley’s speeches to the great and the good in these countries. Reading the following…
You are Europeans as I am a European
I am proud to be an Irishman and a European
… one is inevitably reminded of Simon Hoggart of the Guardian, and his propensity for introducing or re-arranging such statements from political speeches. Try this for size…
You are French… I am French…
You are Czech… I too am Czech.
Indeed the concentration on Ganley is quite something. It’s like butter spread thin across toast. There’s only so much of him to go round. One hopes that there’s enough.
He’s certainly remaining coy about his own actions in the future…
He said it would be best to run candidates in all EU states but conceded that the party’s candidate list had not yet been agreed. He asked for volunteers across the EU to come forward. On the question of his own candidacy, he said: “I’d like to; I haven’t made the decision yet. This is not about me.”
Well, the electorate will no doubt test that proposition to destruction soon enough….
A number of thoughts. Why no announcement of candidates now? Could it be that as mentioned on Wednesday the numbers aren’t flocking to Libertas, or is this meant to be a more impressive staggered release of numbers. The obvious problem is that the time to the campaign is now shortening rapidly, as any of our Irish hopefuls will attest, and the sooner people enter the field the better.
Mr Ganley refused to name the countries where Libertas had already managed to secure candidates. But one member of the French party Movement for France at the event yesterday said they were considering running up to 72 candidates under the Libertas banner. A new party is being set up in the Czech Republic which will partner with Libertas, and there are already concrete plans to run candidates in Britain.
And while it is unusual, in the extreme, for anyone on the CLR to find any element of agreement with Nigel Farage of UKIP one has to concede he’s got a point when he says…
…”absolutely no common ground” between Libertas and his party. He said: “Libertas has nailed its colours firmly to the David Cameron mast of wishing to stay within the EU to try to reform from inside.
“Declan got one thing right – they didn’t listen to the Dutch, they didn’t listen to the French and they’re not listening to the Irish over reform. So why do he and Cameron think they’ll listen to them?”
Which brings us to policy… it’s quite an eclectic mix if yesterday’s press conference reports are to be believed…
Mr Ganley stressed that the main purpose of Libertas was to highlight the lack of democracy and accountability in the EU. But he struggled to communicate other elements of the party’s political programme. He said he was not particularly enamoured of the policy of neutrality and that Libertas was a centrist, moderate organisation that would include members from the centre-left and centre-right. A full manifesto would be published in spring after a first party congress.
It’s all very interesting, not least to see whether Libertas can become a force to be reckoned with over the next six months. But I’d be cautiously pessimistic on their behalf. And even the idea that they can – in some sense – operate as a proxy on Lisbon in states where referendums weren’t called, or where the national constitutions forbid such referendums, seems somewhat tricky. Perhaps they can generate some critical mass, but they’ll have their work cut out for them.
One very telling aspect of this will be whether they can capitalise on the general feeling of anxiety about the future that has found its most pointed manifestation in Greece. There we see a remarkable process unfolding from a truly tragic event. But the end-point, at least in the medium term, would appear to be a Socialist government elected to power. And while that would be far from an awful outcome does it really match up to fulfilling the expectations of those protesting now (and it clearly isn’t the goal of those rioting)? Or perhaps Athens in 2008 is really a reprise, with greater street violence, than Madrid in 2004 with a discredited conservative administration on its last legs. But a transition to a new government doesn’t have to take place in Athens until next year.
That anxiety is evident across Europe and whether it could be focussed in such a manner as to see large, or even medium sized, groups of voters detaching from their primary political allegiance is of no little interest.
It’s when one does thought experiments on how one applies a Libertas candidate in an Irish context that it all becomes a bit nebulous. For example in the Dublin electoral constituency it seems improbable that a candidate could slip in between strong sitting candidates from FF, FG, Labour and Sinn Féin.
And beyond that one wonders what sentiment will express itself as regards Europe over the next year or so, particularly if the downturn – as seems likely – worsens. I simply don’t think that the political ire of voters will leapfrog from the national to the EU (although in that context it is possible that Libertas might make gains at the margins). If anything, and the crisis over pig-farming is extremely educative, the call has been for more support from Brussels.
But all this can be hedged and argued one way or another.
The news that a second poll on Lisbon is to be held ‘before the end of October 2009’ is so expected as to have almost no weight at all. The concessions on the Commissioner and the probable Danish style opt-outs – although I’ll bet the government will do all in its power to avoid having to exercise those sort of genuinely binding measures, but they’ll probably have no choice but to do so – are now so well-flagged up as to be devoid of surprise.
The next opinion poll on the matter should concentrate minds all over.