LibertasDeclan Ganley, instrumental in the campaign that resulted in Ireland voting No to the Treaty of Lisbon, has set up his Libertas Party that will field candidates in the EP elections in June 2009. I’ve been trying to work out what I make of this, hence why it has taken me some time to get around to posting this entry.

First of all, what does Libertas actually want? This is Ganley’s statement at the launch of the party:

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

So he wants a Europe that is strong, democratic and healthy, yet this is the same man that is happy meeting Václav Klaus and Philippe de Villiers. Would they agree with Ganley’s statement at the launch of his party?

The reaction of ‘pro-Europeans’ has been rather predictable, with Graham Watson, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament stating:

Pro-Europeans should not be afraid to confront such anti-European movements head on with the truth that now, more than ever, there are many issues of a global nature that can only be tackled successfully by a united response across the EU.

Hang on Graham, Ganley is not actually saying that he is anti-European… although if you judge a person by his friends then maybe you might say he is.

Essentially what seems to be happening here is that the establishment is reacting to a rather rich and effective cuckoo that has flown into their midst. The cuckoo says things rather similar to what parts of the establishment have been saying, yet, having projected a ‘man of the people’ image in the Irish referendum, seems to be more dynamic and interesting than the creaking, staid mainstream. I see absolutely no reason why Ganley and Libertas should be any better than anyone else at governing in the EU – it’s one thing to mobilise for a No Campaign in Ireland and quite another to get on with the complicated matter of governing. Guido seems to have fallen for the Libertas rhetoric, while Nosemonkey is, as ever, more thoughtful and measured.

The question also is whether the outsider image Libertas portrays is going to be tarnished by putting forward candidates for election. As commenter Anne stated in response to my previous post there was no non-establishment yes campaign in Ireland last time. Is Libertas going to start to look like an establishment no campaign?


  1. Ah, what is it about these movements putting “-as” at the end of their names?

    Seriously though, I think that EU politics needs to be conducted more on the basis of ideology and less on the basis of more vs. less integration. We need some proper EU-wide socialism, liberalism or conservatism, with a link between the parliament and the executive.

  2. I think that Libertas (remember Veritas?) is probably a flash in the pan. I’m also amused by the irony of the first Europe-only political movement being broadly anti-EU.

    But Libertas raises the question – if we are to create a European demos, surely we need Europe-wide political movements that aren’t just MEPs stuck together with gaffer tape into the PES and whatever else.

    Other than the somnolent and establishmenty European Movement, where is there a place to voice support for a united, democratic Europe? Do we need – and I suspect we do – a European Citizens’ Party?

  3. It`s a bit of a conunmdrum for EUrosceptics as well. Reform the EU ? but how far ? will it just be a slowing of the project that one might as well let it have it`s head and destroy itself, hopefully (if you`re British).?

  4. Aidan OSullivan

    I agree Jon. We need to settle the institutional debate (i.e. pass Lisbon) and then politicise Europe.

    The PES, EPP etc should also nominate a Prez of the Commission also….and let there be pan-European campaigning…

  5. Jon,

    In my view Declan Ganley is not credible as a pro-European because of the contents of his Irish No campaign and with regard to the rejectionists he has been courting.

    Ganley’s pot shots at ‘undemocratic Brussels’ miss the target, because the lack of legitimacy rests in the naitonal capitals and their union.

    Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech in the European Parliament seems to promise a continuation of the “French paradox”: dreams of European ‘gloire’, but without the structures and rules to make it come true.

    The constructive alternatives seem to be few and far between, with rejectionist populists and paternalistic leaders in the limelight.

  6. But is he just opposed to the EU? If so then why even say that he wants some kind of reform…?

  7. Aidan OSullivan


    Have you noticed from the Libertas website that there is not one single proposal to reform the EU?

    Libertas is a one-man show and Ganley is all hot air!

    Rgds from Dublin.

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