It’s been another silly day of do-they, don’t-they with regard to the composition of the political groups in the European Parliament. The ECRG lost one MEP (Takkula, Finland) and gained one (Tomaszewski, Lithuania). Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum the Socialist Group has put its new name on its website – in English it’s the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament (GPASD), in French Groupe de l’Alliance Progressiste des Socialistes & Démocrates au Parlement européen (GAPSD). While this at least sounds different from ASDE, the previous name, the reason for the name change is as as previously reported: to keep the Italian Partito Democratico happy.
Oh the irony. Look at the name of that last party! Democratico! For all of these shenanigans make a mockery of even the theory of European democracy in the European Parliament.
If you’re an EU geek and you use your vote at the EP elections you can behave as follows: work out which EU-level party your national party belongs to (Labour in the PES, Lib Dems in the ELDR) etc., and get hold of a copy of the manifestoes of the relevant EU level parties. Chose a party, and vote for its national member party, knowing that statistically about 80% of the time the political parties (that form the political groups) are reasonably united on most issues. Votewatch can help you. After 5 years work out if you’re happy with how the parties behaved, and head off to the polling station again…
But what’s happening this week shows that even that does not work. How can the Partito Democratico MEPs really have looked voters in the eye on the election trail if they did not even know what group they were to join in Brussels? On major legislative issues this will make a difference in the next 5 years. If I had voted for Hannu Takkula or Waldemar Tomaszewski, assuming they would be in the ALDE and EPP respectively, how do I work out where I stand as a voter when they each immediately want to change alliances?
Yes, politicians change parties in national parliaments, but something has to provoke the change, and it’s unlikely to happen right at the very start of an election period. Here we have politicians playing games like petty schoolchildren right from the start. And no, this is not coalition building – there’s no government in the EP, you don’t have coalitions to maintain a government.
In all of this the UK Conservatives actually win points for honesty – they stated they would leave the EPP-ED group and they have accomplished it. Same for Labour and the Lib Dems – they have stuck to their positions. But all of this shows the European Parliament in a very bad light, and makes a mockery of even the theory of European democracy in the only directly elected chamber of the EU.
According to Jean Quatremer it’s not only the name of the Socialist Group that’s going to change, but the logo too:
Le PDI a, en effet, exigé l’abandon de la rose rouge entourée de douze étoiles rouges
Maybe red might be too radical for them too? So here’s a special logo to the right, created specially for the Partito Democratico – a multi-coloured turd.
the truth is that most of the voters don’t even bother reading parties programme or general strategy. how would they realise they are being manipulated?
I agree with the above generally.
Nearest British analogy to Partito Democratico would be if Labour merged with the LibDems (with the right-wing flank of the LibDems breaking away beforehand). No-one would expect the LibLab gestalt to join ALDE, seeing as the former LibDems would be the much smaller component of the new party.
I totally agree with you Jon. I found it quite undemocratic to join an EP group only after the elections. There was no real discussion on it and this decision did not really made it to the first pages of Italian newspapers. Therefore, the big chunk of the electorate did not even know of the perspective of joining the PES (or even what PES is most times).
However, most of PD voters were, until 2 years ago, voting for the Social-Democratic Party (DS) a proud member of PES. By saying that I just mean that the fact of PD joining the European Socialists was only a matter of time and nobody really thought that the Democratic party could stay split or being part of ALDE.
Thing is Jon, I’m not defending Partito Democratico’s actions, it was pretty much a given that they were going to be working with the PES in some shape or form. The largest party who merged into it was after all, Democratici di Sinistra, an explicitly socialist party which had been in the PES since the early ’90s. Heck, the PD is nothing really but a European social-democratic party claiming to be Italy’s version of the US Democrats as their marketing gimmick. There was nowhere elsewhere else for the PD to sit in the europarl: they are too left for ALDE, and the futile wish of a few member of PD’s right wing to form their own independent group had no chance of flying.
I have already a website address for them: http://www.pasd.eu
As http://www.socialistgroup.org is probbaly no longer appropriate.
Discussions about the PES-PD relationship started latest at the PES Congress in Oporto, when the statutes of PES were amended to open membership to “progressive and democratic parties” (i.e. not only socialist ones). And informal arrangements between Gordon Brown, Martin Schulz and Dario Franceschini (the SG of PD) about rebranding the PES group and, possibly, the whole party, were widely reported by the Italian press.
If British and German journalists fail to report news about top level discussions on European parties, it simply means that they consider European politics just a technical issue, as Franceschini, Brown, Schulz & Co do. They actually deserve your proposed PASD symbol. Definitely not European voters, who massively turned the back to almost all PES/EDP parties and expect a truly progressive alternative for Europe.
“can the Partito Democratico MEPs really have looked voters in the eye on the election trail if they did not even know what group they were to join in Brussels? ”
this new group was hardly a secret. They have worked to try and form it for months and they said that the creation of the new group was their aim to collocate themself in EU Parliament. Not that everyone agreed about it as some PD people didn’t seem too keen to it (some former Margherita who were in ALDE)
True, almost no voter knows that his voting decisioin based on issue preference is somewhat overruled by the composition of the EP political groups, e.g. voting German liberals oppossing EU Ökodiktatur and not knowing ALDE is far more liberal. Consequence?
@Andrea – it was a wish, but the agreement was only after the elections. Plus in UK, Germany and elsewhere the idea of re-organising and re-branding the group was not mentioned.
Ha ha ha! Nice one, Jon. All this is manouevering is indefensible from a moral perspective.