Sun Mar 22nd, 2009 at 09:53:04 AM EST
The European People's Party just reaffirmed their support for José Manuel Barroso as Commission President. He's not going to be on the ballot in any country. But it is clear that if you vote for the CDU in Germany, or the UMP in France in the European Parliament elections, you also vote for Barroso as Commission President. From the press release:
"If the EPP wins the elections to the European Parliament in June, and we are confident that we will win, the President of the European Commission should continue to belong to the EPP political family. Jose Manuel Barroso has a broad appeal in all the main political families and is by far the best candidate for this position taking into account his successful term as Commission President and his wide political experience at the national level", stated the President of the EPP, Wilfried Martens.
(via Joan Marc Simon)
There are attempts to stop Barroso. Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the greens is trying to form an initiative called Stop Barroso, as afew wrote in the STOP B... piece. But the biggest obstacle to stopping Barroso isn't the European People's Party. It's the Party of the European Socialists.
François Hollande has a piece in the French Slate in which he supports the initiative of Cohn-Bendit. He also sees the problem with the PES, and notes 'with consternation' that Gordon Brown has rallied to the support of Barroso.
Let's review that, shortly, because we seemed to have missed it. Gordon Brown supports Barroso, as reported by the AFP:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown voiced support Monday for Jose Manuel Barroso to serve a second term as president of the European Commission.
"We will support him not only as the current president of the European Commission but for election as the next president of the European Commission," Brown said after talks with Barroso in London.
Now, Gordon Brown supporting Barroso, that's no big surpise. Barroso was the UK candidate the last time around, because of his support for the war in Iraq. And I hear there's room for a UK party in the EPP-ED group, where nuLabour may fit in better after all.
But the sad truth is that Brown's step can hardly be controversial within the PES, as a good deal of the party has already been supporting Barroso. The failure of the PES to nominate a candidate itself is closely related to the support for Barroso by the prime ministers of Portugal and Spain. Socrates and Zapatero. Who are doing so for Iberian reasons.
As for the outcome European elections, it will look like this: barring an earth-shattering defeat of the EPP, Barroso will continue to be Commission President. The Presidency of the European Parliament will continue to be divided between the PES and the EPP, which each serving half of the term. The PES will get a pledge that it will recieve a fair number of Commissioners, there will also be a few ELDR/ALDE (liberals) Commissioners. Probably no greens.
But is this that bad? The relations between the parties in the European Parliament obviously matters for a lot of the legislation that we see come out of Europe, so there is more at stake. Still, by failing to run a candidate the PES has effectively ruled out that people also have something of a say over a part of the executive. And Barroso hasn't been a very inspiring or effective Commission President, aside of which, a campaign against him and for a PES candidate would have been good for interest in teh elections and could have had a positive impact on the outcome for the left.
When I asked PES spokesperson Julian Scola about this in the European Parliament a few months ago, he stated that the EPP would hardly put up posters of Barroso in the English countryside. That is fair enough, even now that there is no longer an English party in the EPP-ED group, but it also shows where we are. The European Parliament elections are largely national elections with national campaigns. And the PES has missed a major chance to start to change that.