24th May 2019

EU conservatives accuse left of 'agit-prop' over economy

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) is likely to keep its majority in the European Parliament in the June elections, as Europeans pick a safe pair of hands in the economic crisis over socialist "agit-prop," EPP secretary-general Antonio Lopez-Isturiz told the EUobserver.

"The general feeling is that we can maintain a good score ahead of the Socialists. Not an absolute majority, but a majority like we have now, more or less," Mr Lopez-Isturiz said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He admitted the EPP would lose some of its seats "because in many countries we are in government, and that will have a negative impact."

But the Spanish MEP felt confident voters would go "for those options that give them security," rejecting as "prejudices" the ideas that the current economic crisis would damage the centre-right, market economy-oriented parties.

"We defend the social market economy, because who is going to produce the money for the social services, the working places - is it the state or private enterprise?" he asked.

"The left-oriented marketing and agit-prop is saying we are responsible for everything. But who were in European governments during the last 20 years? It was the Socialists who had the majority of governments in Europe."

The EPP, together with the British Conservative Party-dominated European Democrats, holds 288 seats in the current 785-seat legislature, while the second-largest group, the Party of European Socialists, has 213.

Mr Lopez-Isturiz' group is to adopt a party manifesto at its 29 to 30 April congress in Warsaw - the last major EU political group to do so after the Greens, Liberals and Socialists last year.

The EPP is also conducting opinion polls ahead of the vote, with the Spanish MEP pointing to German regional elections in Hessen - where Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union won last week ahead of general elections in autumn - as a positive sign.

Ms Merkel - one the most prominent EPP leaders - kept calm and is now taking "appropriate and reasonable measures" to combat the economic downturn while the Spanish socialist government "wasted all the money" in the first months of the crisis, Mr Lopez-Isturiz said.

He pleaded for more powers for the European political parties and described his vision of a future with common EU lists, where European figures such as Angela Merkel, Tony Blair or Nicolas Sarkozy would run against each other.

"We are producing a common programme, but in the end, it's about national campaigns. [All] we can do, is to be a service provider for national campaigns with European ideas," Mr Lopez-Isturiz explained.

"If in the future, a voter from Romania and one from Spain could vote for a common candidate in Europe, that will change things. If Nicolas Sarkozy was head of the EPP list against Tony Blair for the Socialists. Can you imagine those elections? That would be a real European debate!"

Asked about the democratic credentials of the EPP-Socialist deal on the European Parliament President - where each group appoints its man for two-and-a-half years - the Spanish MEP said in the past it was needed to ensure continuity in the parliament's struggle for democratic scrutiny of EU institutions.

But if the Lisbon treaty comes into force, granting the parliament more powers, the arrangement could be scrapped.

Libertas no threat

Mr Lopez-Isturiz said the newly-founded Libertas movement - stemming from the No campaign in Ireland - is not a threat to the centre-right parties because it is not a "national option" outside Ireland and maybe Great Britain.

"People tend to vote on 'national options' and national views about Europe. They don't vote for the European People's Party or the European Socialists in these elections, but for their national parties," he argued.

"This is the irony. Libertas is a eurosceptic movement, but a real [pan-] European one. Yet in Spain nobody is going to vote for Libertas, because it's not a national option," the MEP explained.

He said Libertas would be a "very strong option in the future, because it's very well financed," however, echoing previous calls in parliament for the group to disclose the sources of its funding.

Meanwhile, the Socialists believe the economic crisis will give them control of the house. This article is part of a series of articles by EUobserver on the forthcoming European parliament elections.

Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election

Polling booths have opened in the UK for EU elections, with voters not knowing if Brexit will happen, if they have a prime minister, or caring that much who their MEPs will be.

Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble

Dutch voters are not interested in a 'Nexit', according to polls, but prime minister Mark Rutte warned against a Dutch EU exit on the night before the EU elections at a debate with a new anti-EU kid on the block.


EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal

An Austrian criminal intelligence service persuaded Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini to set up a unit in Sicily against migrant smuggling, while in Senegal EU development money is financing an European-police led reform of Dakar's defence and interior ministries.


EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday

Voters in the world's second-biggest election, the European Parliament ballot, will know before midnight on Sunday to what extent a foretold far-right surge has come to be.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job


EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).


All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us