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.