I’ve been hammering on and on at the PES and the issue of why socialists have not been able to nominate a candidate for President of the Commission to follow Barroso when the Portuguese’s term of office ends 31st October this year. The story behind all of this gets immensely complex – I’m going to try to set the record straight as far as I see it.
Essentially there is a disagreement between the Party of European Socialists, headed up by party president Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, and 3 of the PES member parties. Those 3 parties, and their party leaders, namely Socrates in Portugal, Zapatero in Spain and Brown in the UK, are quite happy with Barroso being re-nominated as President of the Commission as this re-nomination suits their own petty national interests, and also – especially for the UK – the fact that Barroso is weak also helps his cause.
In the opposite camp are MEPs in the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and leaders of some of Europe’s social democrat parties that are out of power nationally. For them they need a strong message for the election campaigns on why a social europe is possible and desirable, and accomplishing that with Barroso in place is not going to be easy. So hence we have Rasmussen in an interview in Le Monde stating “Si une autre majorité se dégage, M. Barroso ne pourra pas être reconduit“, and he also stated in Financial Times Deutschland “Wir wollen nach der Europaparlamentswahl zusammen mit anderen Parteien einen anderen Kommissionspräsidenten wählen“.
So essentially if you vote for a PES member party at the EP elections in June you’ll get MEPs that will not back Barroso (good) but do not know who they will back (bad) and say they will have to cooperate with other parties on that (confusing).
So why not put up a candidate anyway? Well, Rasmussen might want to be that person, but with his namesake now NATO General Secretary, and also with Denmark outside Schengen and the Euro is he appropriate? His left wing rival in Brussels, Martin Schulz, is a tub-thumping bully, not someone with the nous or ability to bring people together. The best social democrat – Pascal Lamy – hence seldom even features in the debate about the nomination of a candidate.
Then Europe’s politicians wonder why the population does not understand what’s going on in Brussels, and how the process of European ‘democracy’ seems opaque and confusing. I rest my case.