Thursday 17 October 2013

European Elections 2014 Update: State of the Primaries

After the failure of the European political families to turn the 2009 elections into a true battle for power with the lack of presidential candidates, the Europarties have started to set up their own procedures to select the men and women they'd like to see steer the ponderous European ship.

The Party of European Socialists have opened their nomination period this month, to close at the end of October. The timetable for the PES is:

  • 1st October 2013: opening of nominations - candidacies, letters of nomination and support should be sent to the PES
  • 31st October 2013: close of nominations 
  • 6th November 2013: PES Presidency meeting to check that all criteria are fulfilled – Official announcement of the candidates’ list
  • 1st December 2013 – 31st January 2014: internal selection process within each member Party/organisation.
  • February 2014: PES Election Congress, to ratify the votes on the candidate and adopt the Manifesto – Launch of the PES European election campaign
  • May 2014: European Parliament Elections

The timetable is actually the biggest weakness of the PES's process - will there really be much of a campaign over the winter months? It will be nigh on impossible to generate media interest in the candidates unless they're former prime ministers, and hard to engage the party base when everyone's geared towards spending more time with family.

(This raises a question I've heard hinted at by a few people - are prime ministers the only talent pool that is suitable to draw Commission Presidents from? I'm not so sure, but with such a small, barren window of opportunity for the PES to pick a candidate, it's hard to imagine them successfully establishing anyone from outside that pool).

The European Greens have also opened up their nomination process for their leading candidates. This call for candidates closes on Sunday, so if there are any Greens who'd like to give it a shot, they'll have to apply soon! Nominees will need at least 4 member parties supporting them to be successful in their bid for leadership positions. It's not clear if the Greens see these leadership positions as potential Commissioners in the event of a coalition, or if they are intended as parliamentary leaders.

I haven't found anything on the European People's Party's selection process so far, but EPP MEP Gay Mitchell (Dublin) has called for the EPP to nominate a candidate this year. Mitchell also proposed former Irish Taoiseach and EU Ambassador John Bruton for the job.

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