Friday 7 September 2012

Europarty Congress Season and a Third Term for Barroso

There have been some comments in favour of Barroso winnning a third term as Commission President. It's interesting that the comments come from Reding, who was considered one of the front-runners for the race in 2014. However it's not an idea I'd warm to exactly - I'm not the biggest fan of Barroso - but it does raise an important question for the European conference season: how will the Europarties approach the next European elections and the election of the next Commission President?

The Commission President is nominated by the European Council (by Qualified Majority Voting), but it's the European Parliament that elects the Commission President, and later the President elect's nominated College of Commissioners. Since the Parliament elects the Commission, the European Council nominates a candidate from the same Europarty as the one that won the election. The European People's Party endorsed Barroso for the presidency in 2009, and the Party of European Socialists failed to make any nomination so the presidency wasn't an election issue. The centre-left PES governments of the UK, Spain and Portugal backed Barroso, preventing a common PES candidate, but the PES has committed itself to picking a candidate for the post in the future, and will hold primaries for deciding its candidate. The vote adopting these procedures will take place during its September Congress:

"The European Socialist Party is due to vote to change its party statute on 29 September. The plan is to have national parties put forward a candidate for commission president. The final socialist nominee is then expected to be unveiled in February 2014, just ahead of the June elections"

EUObserver reports that ELDR, the liberal Europarty, also intends to consider procedures for selecting a candidate:

""We will be making a recommendation to our party congress this autumn on what the procedure should be for the selection of a liberal candidate for the president of the commission. And we would see that process taking place in the autumn of next year," Graham Watson, leader of the European Liberals, told this website.

He said it is the first time the party has ever tried to set down rules for the procedure. Previously names "sort of emerged" from a "conclave of liberal leaders."

The European People's Party is likely to discuss the possibility of candidate selection as part of its election strategy at its conference.

Being able to vote for a policy platform and for candidates for the Commission presidency is essential if the EU is to become more democratic and open. This Congress season will be an important early test to gauge the commitment - and ability - of the Europarties to present alternatives when it comes to election time. It's not enough to blame the Commission and the Member States from the Parliament Chamber: Europarties have to be able to present and fight for alternatives if they're to pass themselves off as political parties.

The PES Congress will take place at the end of the month in Brussels, the EPP's will be held in October in Bucharest, and the ELDR Congress will be held in early November in Dublin.


  1. Barroso is a shoe in, and the EP, MEPs, and the Commission wonder why they are so unloved by their so called 'citizens'. The is a EU democratic deficit the size of the Grand Canyon, and this only feeds ever more anti EU feeling among Europeans towards the whole cosy election process of the Brussels elite.

  2. The lack of a proper contest in 2009 was a disgrace. The PES are committed to putting up a candidate, but how much it will be part of the campaign - either their own strategy or under scrutiny by the media - is another question altogether...

  3. We also expect new rules for Europarties to be proposed by the EU Commission in the coming weeks. Will be interesting to see how this affects their work and the next election campaign… [Disclaimer: Following this for professional reasons.]

  4. Thanks for the info Ron! I'll keep a look out for any news on that.