European Parliament Elections 2014 – Commission President

One of the big outcomes (supposedly!) from this years European Parliament Elections will be the nominated by the winning European Parliament Grouping in the Elections. While some believe this will lead to deadlock and confrontation, other believe it is the start of a truly democratic European Union.

So who are the European Parties nominating?

Party of European Socialists (PES)

The PES had a great idea of a Europe wide primary among its member parties, but in the end this didn’t happen as only one candidate was nominated, that being the current President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz of the Germany’s SPD. While this has annoyed a number of activists, it has prevented a possible long drawn out campaign.

European People’s Party (EPP)

The EPP will open its nominations for the Commission President Candidate on February 13th and they close on March 5th before being selected at their Congress in Dublin on March 6th and 7th (Full Details here). A number of names have been mentioned including former head of the European Group and former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker. Though it is thought that Germany’s Angela Merkel is against his appointment and would prefer either Poland’s Donald Tusk or Ireland’s Enda Kenny to be the EPP’s nomination.

Another possible candidate is Viviane Reding the current Commissioner responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

The ALDE Party (formerly ELDR)

The newly renamed ALDE Party is set to name its Candidate at a special conference in Brussels on February 1st. This is set to be a showdown between current Economic Commissioner Olli Rehn of Finland and the leader of the ALDE Group Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium. It will be interesting to see who will be victorious.

European Green Party

The European Green Party has embraced the internet and is allowing anyone who agrees with their policies to vote for their Candidate in an online Primary. You can vote for two out of the four candidates. The Candidates include José Bové of France, Monica Frassoni of Italy, Rebecca Harms of Germany and Ska Keller also of Germany. If you want to vote head on over to GreenPrimary.eu

European Left Party

The European Left Party last month nominated Alexis Tsipras leader of the Greek SYRIZA party to be its candidate in the elections. This is interesting as SYRIZA is the only party of the European Left Party to be leading in the polls in its home country. Its highly unlikely that Tsipras will be European Commission President, the next Greek Prime Minister on the other hand…

The other possible candidates include Maire Le Pen leading a European Far Right grouping (or maybe Nigel Farage?) and a possible European Conservatives and Reformist candidate, no names have emerged from that grouping.

It will be an interesting one to watch.

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Multiculturalism has failed. Time for Interculturalism.

Katarina Church and the minaret of the Stockho...

So its 2011, the supposed “Clash of Civilisation” hasn’t happened, but it still could. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness once hailed as being the only way to deal with “people different to us” is failing. The issues created when “others” moved into an area are still there. Nothing is improving and in some places cultural tensions are increasing.

There are a few reasons why multiculturalism is failing.

The fear of the “Other” still exists. We say say we aren’t racist, we may say we respect them. But neither of those statements cover up for the indirect racism or the misrepresentations we make of people from other cultures who may even live on the same street.

There is no interaction. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness have left people afraid to say things to each other out of fear of offending someone. Since when do we worry about this? If we do not mean to offend, people will know this! We no more understand people from other cultures as we did when they came to our countries as we are afraid to interact with them.

So I think German Chancellor Angela Merkel is correct. Multiculturalism has failed. Its time for a new approach. Can things be better with interculturalism?

Since getting involved with the Anna Lindh Foundation and the concept of “Intercultural Dialogue” I am more and more convinced that this is the way forward. We need not just to accept people from other cultures, we need to interact with, and I mean really interact with them. Not just going to joint events, but going to events aimed mainly at one group.

It is only this way that we will socialise with people from other cultures and move outside our comfort zone. This is the only way we can learn how to truly be accepting. Through the Anna Lindh Foundation I have learned this and the more events I attend the more I think this is true. The recent Anna Lindh Exchange Forum meeting confirmed this for me. The more we are willing to interact with people from other places and cultures the more we learn about them and they about us. It will mean we have to worry less about Political Correctness as there will be a level of understanding that will be beyond the need for this.

So its time time we stopped being understanding each other on a deeper level by being intercultural and not paying lip service as being multicultural.

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Bruton For European Council President?

John Bruton For President?
John Bruton For President?

Young Fine Gael is trying to launch a grassroots campaign for John Bruton to be made President of the European Council. I received the following missive from HQ.

Dear Member,

As you may know former Taoiseach and Leader of Fine Gael John Bruton is seeking election as President of the European Council.

Let’s get behind him by using the internet to spread his campaign around Europe.

SIGN THE PETITION
Please sign and forward the petition link to all your contacts throughout the 27 member states of the EU http://www.petitiononline.com/Bruton/petition.html

SUPPORTER ON FACEBOOK
Please become a supporter on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Bruton-for-EU-President/163560809402

CHANGE YOUR PROFILE PIC
For you hardcore supporters our there… Please use this pic as your profile pic on bebo and facebook www.yfg.ie/images/images/johnb.jpg

Now while a Facebook Page and Petition might get you some attention in the national media, I do not think it is going to make waves across Europe.

The thinking behind this is a little strange. Campaigns like this rarely work in Ireland, let alone across 27 countries. Would YFG not be better off asking its members to write to the Taoiseach and other EU leaders extolling the virtues of John Bruton? Would they not be better off sending us reason why we should back him? There are a few that I can think of, but why not inform the rest of us. That way we can try and convince our friends rather just blindly following due to fact he used to lead our party.

Why not tell us about all the things he has done since he stopped being a Fine Gael TD? Such as being the EU Ambassodor to the US?

This will also go nowhere due to the fact it is in one language. Why not translate the petition into German and French and maybe other EU languages and maybe also give information about Bruton in those languages so we can convince others.

I don’t think this will make much of a difference to his chances. I don’t think Angela Merkel or Nicolas Sarkozy are going to be looking on facebook for ideas of who to suggest for the poistion of President of the European Council.

The Presidency of the European Council

There has been a lot of talk lately about the collapse of the Tony Blair candidacy for President of the European Council (see Nosemonkey’s recent post for an explanation of all those councils!). I personally am thankful for that, but Blair is still holding out and hoping to get Angela Merkel’s backing for the post. I don’t see him getting the German Chancellors backing due to the whole Iraq War debacle.

So who will get it? Paddy Power have odds up for a few politicians and Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, is currently favourite. While I think he would make a good Council President I think its time the EU stood up and appointed a woman to being the top post. With David Milliband looking likely as the Foreign Affairs portfolio, a female President would be excellent. (There is a twitter campaign for this by the way!) Paddy Power mention two women on their list, former Irish President, Mary Robinson and current Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

Mary Robinson has ruled herself out for the role, leaving Tarja Halonen the sole remaining mentioned female candidate. I am sure there are others. Julien Frisch has a post outlining why she could be a good President. She certainly has the experience!

So who will get it? If the Czech President Vaclav Klaus signs the Lisbon Treaty after the constitutional Court gives its verdict this week, there will be a special summit on the 11th and 12th of November to decide the names of those getting the new posts.

Who are you backing?

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