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16th May 2022

Germany and the European Parliament elections 2004

EUOBSERVER / EP-elections 2004 - With 99 MEPs to be elected for the next term of the European Parliament - the issue most likely to get Germans out of their houses and into the polling booths on 13 June is Turkish membership of the EU.

And the whole issue may get quite nasty. While the ruling Social Democrat government has made a point of saying they are in favour of Ankara’s bid to join the EU, the Christian Democrat opposition (CDU) along with its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, are implacably opposed and want to make it an election issue.

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  • Germany will keep the same number of MEPs for Parliament's next term (Photo: European Commission)

Joining the centre-right on this issue are an extreme far-right party, which has recently regrouped and renamed itself the ‘Offensive D’. This party which wants to take part in the European elections has made being against Turkish membership of the EU and "against the spreading islamation" their one issue theme.

With Germany having the biggest Turkish population in the EU and a crucial decision to be taken on Ankara’s readiness for membership of the club in October, this is an issue that the German opposition can keep alive if they want to.

A general factor that may influence the elections is that they will take place in a different atmosphere to that of 1999. As citizens of the economic laggard of the EU, Germans are feeling the effects and are not so happy to be the biggest net contributors to the EU without any visible gain.

On top of this the present government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has struck a far more strident what-can-the-EU-do-for-Germany note – rather than the other way round.

Berlin has clashed with Brussels on several issues including over how much money it should give in the next EU financial round (2007-2013), over the rules underpinning the euro, as well as over the takeover directive and Volkswagen.

Similarly, Germany has remained steadfast over the talks on the Constitution – which eventually collapsed in December.

Centre-Right

As the biggest fraction in the European Parliament, the Christian Democrats are hoping to repeat their success this year. Head of the CDU in the Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering tops the list in his Land (Niedersachsen) and is hoping to be the leader again this year.

Several current Christian Democrat MEPs will top the lists in their Länder including Elmar Brok (Nordrhein Westfahlen), Werner Langen (Rheinland Pfalz), Reimer Böge (Schleswig Holstein) and Alfred Gomolka (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).

One relatively well-known CDU politician not running again is Dietmut Theato, head of the powerful Budgetary Control Committee in the European Parliament.

The CDU’s smaller sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is based in Bavaria – its list will be topped by Ingo Friedrich – the current vice-president of the European Parliament.

Socialists

Several prominent Socialist MEPs will run again this time around. The SPD list will be topped by Martin Schulz who enjoyed relative obscurity in Europe until he was insulted by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - after which he shot to fame.

He was voted by an overwhelming majority (260 out of 266) at an SPD conference to head the list.

Other well known faces in the German SPD camp include Klaus Hänsch, member of the Convention that drew up the Constitution, and Jo Leinen.

All these candidates will be fighting hard to try and ensure that voters do not simply vote against the government - which has been pushing through very unpopular social security reforms - as voters amply demonstrated in a regional vote in Hamburg in February where the SPD suffered a crushing defeat.

Well-known SPD deputies that are not standing include Willi Rothley, who fought long and hard on reforming the system surrounding MEPs pay, and Christa Randzio-Plath, head of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

Liberals – hoping for a break

The liberals will be hoping to break into the European Parliament as they have no MEPs in the assembly at the moment. Their list is topped by Brussels-based lobbyist Silvana Koch Mehrin. However, they found themselves in the unusual position of having to repeat their Europe day party conference after one liberal, Günter Rexrodt, wanted to be a candidate but was refused by the steering committee.

The committee then admitted it had gone against its own rules and so decided to have a new Europe party day on 28 March – the first one took place on 17 January.

PDS and Greens

The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) will be headed by current MEP Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann – this party emerged in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) of the former East Germany.

The Greens' list will be topped by Rebecca Harms, not currently an MEP. In second place is the ubiquitous Green Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a student activist in 1968 who also shared a flat with German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. During the last elections he stood as a French MEP.

European elections will take place on 13 June in Germany, which, incidentally, is the only country of the EU15 along with Luxembourg, that will have the same number of seats in the European Parliament after enlargement.

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Number of MEPs to be elected: 99

Election day: 13 June 2004

Turnout in EP-elections 1999: 45.2%

Turnout in latest national election 22 September 2002: 79.1 %

Distribution of current MEPs in the European Parliament:

53 PPE-ED Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (43) - Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern e.V. (10)

35 PSE Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

- ELDR

7 GUE/NGL Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (6) - Parteilos

(1)

4 Verts/ALE Bündnis 90/die Grünen

- UEN

- EDD

- NI

99 total

Other German lists/parties:

Freie Demokratische Partei (Free Democratic Party, liberal)

Updated 2 June 2004

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