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Uh-oh! Someone better tell Chairman Ganley the Prague Libertas office doesn’t appear to be returning his calls. January 12, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics.

Now, for those of us following the fascinating machinations around Libertas, and really – what a show that has become… what to make of the news today reported in the Irish Times?

For under the headline “Anti-Lisbon party launches in Czech Republic” one will read:

A NEW political party dedicated to campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic will be launched today by close associates of Czech president Vaclav Klaus.

Yes, yes. This we knew already…

But in a blow to the pan-European ambitions of Declan Ganley, its founder Petr Mach has ruled out adopting the Libertas brand to compete in the European elections.

Why would that be Mr. Mach?

“I tried to explain to him that…”

Hold on… ‘tried to explain to him…’ ‘him’ being Declan Ganley one presumes... ‘tried to explain’... that suggests that the effort was unsuccessful… but that it was seen as necessary… oh dear.

Anyway, continue.

“I tried to explain to him that setting up parties is a different thing than setting up businesses. If he has a business he can set up subsidiaries and he would then be the main shareholder of it. It is different with political parties,” said Mr Mach, who held talks with Mr Ganley on whether to join forces and form a Czech Libertas.

Now this, this is fascinating. It would appear that Libertas, or its founder, by Mach’s account, regarded itself as a business with Ganley as its CEO. What a telling insight into the worldview of our leading Irish eurosceptic… I mean of course… eurorealist.

And what’s this?

The talks broke down because Mr Mach wants to focus his party – which is called the Free Citizens’ Party (Strana Svobodnych Obcanu) – on national rather than EU politics and not simply become a subsidiary of Libertas. It will campaign in the European elections, but its main goal is to become a force in Czech politics that can rival the ruling Civic Democrat party (ODS), which has recently distanced itself from Klaus over his Eurosceptic views ahead of the Czech Republic’s elevation to the position of president of the EU’s council of ministers.

A subsidiary of Libertas, on Czech soil. Amazing stuff.

It gets better…

Mr Ganley will now try to set up his own Libertas branch in the Czech Republic without Mr Mach. “Petr Mach is a Eurosceptic and I am not,” Mr Ganley said yesterday…

Which, of course, is why he sought to have an agreement with Mr. Mach and went into talks with him. One wonders how long it took him to realise that his interlocuter was a ‘eurosceptic’…ten minutes, fifteen? Still, perhaps we should be grateful for small mercies since…

“Where we run candidates on the ballot paper; they will be Libertas candidates and they won’t be Eurosceptic,” said Mr Ganley, who was in Poland at the weekend interviewing potential candidates. He said Libertas officials would visit the Czech Republic this week.

Interviewing potential candidates? Really, doesn’t this strike people as quite utterly bizarre that an Irish businessman who has run a successful campaign against an EU Treaty is attempting to establish a pan-EU political party and is hot-footing it around the continent ‘interviewing’ candidates? Like, who gave him the keys of the kingdom?

And on that point Mach has harsh words about Ganley’s remaining ambitions in the European political field…

…said Mr Ganley’s proposal to set up Libertas branches in every EU state was unlikely to work because there was no single European “demos” or public opinion.

“I think his [Ganley’s] concept won’t work. You simply cannot know the situation in all member states,” Mr Mach said.

“In all countries the public will always consider him a stranger because he speaks a different language. It is impossible to campaign in a foreign language. I think you cannot apply a business concept to politics.”

Now put aside the notion that cultural and linguistic differences are quite so essentialist as Mach appears to believe, although on a practical day to day level they obviously present massive problems, but surely the fundamental problem here, and one that Ganley appears to be ignoring, or worse still be unaware of, is that quite contrary to the cries of the most ardent eurosceptics and to the dismay of the most vociferous europhiles the EU is far from the all powerful political economic hegemon of popular imagination and that – like it or not – national cultures and political environments will for the foreseeable future always be the primary context of political action. They provide the intrinsic brake on integration. And the very lack of serious trans-national political activity – even, crucially, amongst like minded political parties from one country or another – and the concentration on the EU dynamic on the Council of Ministers tells us just how real, if sometimes difficult to see clearly, the limits to European integration actually are.

And furthermore it makes no sense… for eurosceptics to assemble under a single banner across Europe. They have, as we see above, directly divergent ambitions and goals. They are innately averse to ‘other’, even the ‘other’ that shares their world view.

Mach points to this also when he suggests that there is no place for Libertas within the Czech political environment since that space is already occupied… but, magnanimously…

…his party would be willing to co-operate with any Libertas MEPs elected to the European Parliament in other EU states to oppose the Lisbon Treaty following the European elections in June.

“In principle I think we both share the same goal . . . so it would be practical if he would accept our party as part of a loose alliance, but I have not received a reply,” he said.

But beyond that no formal linkage on the pan-European level. And here’s another thought. Mach’s Free Citizens’ Party, while not my cup of tea, is clearly an organic element within the Czech polity. It grows out of the disenchantment of the Vaclav Klaus wing of the ruling ODS conservative party with the shift towards a pro-EU stance by the government. In other words it is a part and parcel of their political ecology, even to the point that Mach accepts that on most issues it will be ‘close’ to the ODS. Sure, there’s some talk that polling data sees a Libertas-style party getting up to 22 percent of the vote. But that’s now and then is then. The Treaty will most likely be ratified in the Czech parliament, and whether signed or not by that great appointed democrat Klaus (oh yes folks, for he didn’t get his position at popular vote election but by a parliamentary vote), will dissipate as an issue in the Czech polity.

But what of Libertas? There are a lot of half-baked notions that it might co-opt a PD vote, but I’ve no real sense that PD voters are antagonistic to the EU in any serious fashion, or that FG voters or FF voters (or more importantly activists) are either. Nor does it seem to have roots into the Irish political system, and whatever about the hand-waving and prognostications of doom relating to the supposed fracture of our current system it seems a safe bet that within five years Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will remain the two largest political blocs in the Republic.

And where is the space for an avowedly ‘Eurorealist’ formation? That will, as has the green agenda and others before it, be co-opted by the big battalions, at least rhetorically while the substance remains more or less the same. We’ve already been treated to two examples of same during and after the last Lisbon referendum when both Fine Gael and Labour blew hot and cold over the Treaty. I’d imagine any future feints in that direction will be a bit more thought through, but if they have to be done they will be.

And as with Prague, so with other states where internal political activity will dictate the pace of change, such as it is. Poland’s indigenous political class already has its Eurosceptic representation, with no real call for external interference.

Which leaves the Libertas looking decidedly threadbare. An Irish solution to an Irish problem, which would be mostly right, except for the solution bit, or the problem bit. And that leads to the thought that if Libertas has any hope, any hope at all of making serious political inroads it will be here in this state. Worth returning to soon.


1. » Libertas in the Czech Republic Science, society, stuff…: A blog about, well, science, society and stuff… - January 12, 2009

[…] https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/uh-oh-someone-better-tell-chairman-ganley-the-prague-lib… addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fjamesmcinerney.ie%2F2009%2F01%2F12%2Flibertas-in-the-czech-republic%2F’; addthis_title = ‘Libertas+in+the+Czech+Republic’; addthis_pub = ”; […]


2. Niall - January 12, 2009

What fun! Is it wrong that I take delight in Ganley’s misfortune?

Probably not.


3. D.J.P. O'Kane - January 12, 2009

A cousin knows Ganley socially, and defended him to me on those grounds the last time we met.

Worst xmas ever.

Could Ganley’s launch into politics be motivated by as narrow a concern as the desire of his US military-industrial complex to avoid the emergence of a competitor in the EU? I remember Vincent Browne arguing that Lisbon included provisions to promote an EU-level defence industry.


4. CL - January 12, 2009

-‘All politics is local’- TIP O’Neill


5. WorldbyStorm - January 12, 2009

Well I guess the thing is if Christian and Social Democracy can’t (or more likely and entirely understandably) don’t want to generate transcontinental political formations, then why does anyone think a much smaller brand of political activism will do so successfully.

Niall. Not at all… 🙂

DJP, the Greens certainly think so.

CL. It sure is.


6. smiffy - January 13, 2009

The other obstacle in the way of a pan-European Libertas group, appealing to Eurosceptics (sorry, Eurorealists) is the nature of Libertas’ own policies, or the dearth of them. As any fule kno, Ganley’s own pronouncements on the European Union, confused and vague as they are, actually imply a strongly federalist position. In particular, his complaints about the lack of democracy and demand for a directly elected ‘European President’ (sic) suggest a policy platform which requires the dilution of national sovereignty, rather than the strengthening of it.

Now, his little buzzwords and empty sloganeering might go down very well among those with no knowledge of how the EU actually works (see politics.ie, for example), but may well prove harder to swallow with those among his target constituency who actually understand the institutions and oppose them on those terms. While the rest of us await with bated breath the emergence of the “detailed policy document” Libertas is due to release in the coming months, perhaps the Chairman has been giving sneak previews of his policies to his chums around Europe, who don’t necessarily like what they see.

As an aside, and just for a cheap laugh, I happened to notice this notice on the Libertas website.

I wonder if any of the readers here are seeking “the experience of a lifetime” and meet the following criteria:

“You are a student or recent graduate with leadership skills and energy. You have organisation and project management skills. You want to change Europe. You have been involved in campaigning. You have an excellent feel for the political landscape in Europe and especially in your country. You want to get engaged and are willing to learn from leading personalities and decision-makers from the Brussels scene, and brilliant researchers and campaigners.

You are prepared to fully commit to a six-month experience of a lifetime with Libertas.”

Who wouldn’t want to be moulded by

” leading academics under the lead of Jens-Peter Bonde, the most longstanding and experienced Member and group leader of the European Parliament, who also wrote 60 books about European integration and has a lexicon on the net – see euabc.com and Bonde.com. “

Well, poor old Bonde is no longer the ‘most longstanding’ MEP but I do like the point about the 60 books on European integration. It reminds me of the claim made by Garreth Marenghi (of Darkplace fame): that he had written more books than he had read.


7. ejh - January 14, 2009

That gag’s older than Darkplace (or My Sister’s Boyfriends, as I used to call it): I’ve heard it attributed to at least one leading British chessplayer and prolific author of churn-’em-out books. (Not actually Ray Keene in this instance, surprising as that may be.)


8. people korps - January 17, 2009

Great news that Ganley has taken this hit. However, he is not finished yet. It is fair to sauy that he has a neck like a jockeys b*******But he finds it very hard to tell the same story consistently.

Rinascita Balcanica, 14.04.08
“Savings of the Albanians gambled on the stock exchange.”
Alketa Alibali
on my blog linked below


9. WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2009

Interesting stuff PK…


10. EWI - January 17, 2009

You are a student or recent graduate with leadership skills and energy. You have organisation and project management skills. You want to change Europe. You have been involved in campaigning. You have an excellent feel for the political landscape in Europe and especially in your country. You want to get engaged and are willing to learn from leading personalities and decision-makers from the Brussels scene, and brilliant researchers and campaigners.

And then they ended ended up employing McGuirk & Co, as well as working with two-thirds of what used to be the grown-up (and employed) version of the Freedom Institute – the ORI.

BwahahahahahahaHAHAH-HAH-HAH-HAH…. man, that brings tears to my eyes 🙂

And poor, misunderstood Declan Ganley. All he wanted was to be a good pro-European Irishman, guv’nor; but instead there’s been all these horrible mistakes such as having described himself as British during his adult life and his rotten luck in employees and political acquaintances – all of whom turned out to be diehard anti-European pro-Bush WASP wannabes [1]. Quelle horreur!

[1] With one exception. What The F*ck is going on inside Patricia McKenna’s head these days? Can anyone please explain it to me?


11. WorldbyStorm - January 18, 2009

I ask myself that last question on a regular basis EWI. How her radicalism has been subsumed into such a reactionary project can only be explained by a sort of ‘enemies enemy’ approach. It’s not great.


12. Kev Bar - January 19, 2009

PeopleKorps – are they the savings that Ganley says were snatched by the Albanian Central Bank cos they halted the privitisation process.
But didn’t they restart it again?
On the subject, Ganley told PrimeTime he was unaware of an unofficial trade in the vouchers which gave them a street value while he is actually quoted, at the time his Anglo Adriactic Investment Fund was doing business, giving the street value of the vouchers.
So the man appears to have lied to Primetime about this aswell the lies he told about AAIF empoyee he denied knowing, Kosta Trebicka and about being an advisor to the Latvian government.
So what has Ganley to say to 1,000s of poor Albanians?
Looks very much like the untransparent behaviour of a corrupt elite.


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