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Comment is free: David Toube: MEPs are up in arms at the possibility that Le Pen might chair the European parliament (26 March 2009)
The story, in short, is this. By virtue of having made it to the grand age of 80, Jean Marie Le Pen is likely to be the oldest member of the incoming European parliament. Under existing parliamentary rules, he would therefore be asked to chair its inaugural session. Le Pen's function would be essentially ceremonial. He will perform the role for the briefest of moments: until the assembly's president or speaker is decided. The whole business is, a little bit of flummery: a method of honouring a veteran parliamentarian.

For that reason, a coalition of anti-fascists in the European parliament has emerged, who are determined that this accolade is not bestowed on Le Pen. To deprive him of his five minutes of glory, they want to change the parliamentary rules. According to the European parliamentary Labour party, however, the move is being blocked by Graham Watson, the Liberal Democrat MEP and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European parliament.

I've spoken to Graham Watson. His view is reasonable enough. Essentially, what he says is that to fuss about Le Pen's five minutes in the sun is to give the man publicity that he does not deserve. Moreover, he points out, it is easy enough to stop Le Pen: just put up an older "dinosaur" for election.



Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 27th, 2009 at 11:17:16 AM EST
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