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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The IMF Arrive tomorrow

International Monetary Fund
Image via Wikipedia

Maman Poulet has the story that the IMF are sending a team to Ireland to

“participate in a short and focused consultation, together with the European Commission, and the ECB, in order to determine the best way to provide any necessary support to address market risks.”

Full statement here

How long until they are running the country? And how long can we hold out on this bailout?

We either need a General Election or to give the EU-IMF control. It is obvious that FF don’t know what they are doing any more.

Then again can the opposition do a better job? I hope so. It would be better then giving all the power to the EU-IMF.

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No Consenus

German Logo of the ECB.
Image via Wikipedia

Euractive have a very interesting article on the talks between EU Economic Commissioner Olli Rehn and the Irish Government and Opposition.

“He asked us our view and I told him […] we had no confidence in this government, and the thing that would give more stability to the country is an election and a government in place that had a significant working majority,” said Michael Noonan, finance spokesman for the centre-right Fine Gael party

This of course means the markets are jittery about Ireland. Will Fine Gael stick to the 4 year plan to reduce the deficit if they win the election? Will Labour? This worry and the Portuguese Debt Auction  has sent “the risk premium on Irish and Portuguese bonds to record highs and prompting market talk of European Central Bank (ECB) intervention.”

This is worry news indeed.

The Irish yield spread over benchmark German bunds reached a record peak near 574 basis points in late trading. The 10-year Portuguese/Bund spread also hit a euro lifetime high of 466 basis points and traders said the ECB had been buying bonds.

Credit ratings agency Fitch Solutions said the cost of insuring Irish and Portuguese sovereign debt against default had widened by 24 and 22% respectively compared to the sovereign debt market average in the last week.

Commissioner Rehn is still thinking positive though, he told RTÉ

“I believe that the markets have not yet internalised this plan and these decisions because they are still at the planning stage,” he said. “Once they have been decided by the government and passed by the parliament they will have a real effect, and then the market forces [will] believe that Ireland is able to cope.”

I personally hope that he is right. Next months Budget is going to be make or break, not just for the Government, but for the country as a whole. There is no doubt that cuts and taxes are coming, and a few holy grails will have to be given up, but can we accept that as a country? Will we protest on the street like the Greeks? Or will we grin and bear it?

The next four years are going to be tough. Can we make it? I hope so, but we need political will and not political point scoring.

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