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Don't look for democracy in the EU presidency - International Herald Tribune

BRUSSELS: Exactly a year from now, the United States will be swearing in its 44th president. He or she will shoulder the weight of the world. It comes with the territory.

Very much less certainly, but just possibly, Europe may have its first president in January 2009. He - there is no she on the list of likely candidates - would be a man who at least in theory embodies the best shot anyone since Charlemagne has had at representing European unity.

Tony Blair, who's a political Formula One racing team, but not consensual, gets mentioned a lot. At a considerably lower horsepower rating, so does Jean-Claude Juncker, the workaday prime minister of Luxembourg, who may not turn out as consensual as some people think. Other hopefuls lounge or skulk in the wings.

The selection process runs parallel with the American presidential race during the second half of the year (and probably into 2009). But its stage is the closed conference halls of the European Union, whose successes and inadequacies have always reflected its reflexes for deals and ambiguity.

The choice of the European president is true to the EU's historical character. Rather than a popular vote, the selection process will belong to the council of chiefs of state and government created by the Lisbon Treaty, whose ratification must be complete before their choice is made.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:16:37 PM EST
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