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28th Feb 2024

Libertas expects to field 100 candidates for European elections

  • Libertas hopes to field candidates in each member states (Photo: EUobserver)

Anti-treaty party Libertas is hoping to field at least 100 candidates for the upcoming June European elections, its chief Declan Ganley has said.

In Brussels on Thursday (19 March) the Irish businessman who speared-headed a successful no campaign ahead of Ireland's referendum on the Lisbon Treaty last year said:

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"We expect to be running over one hundred candidates. How much over the 100 remains to be seen, it could be significantly more than that."

Fresh from having announced his intention to stand in the elections himself, Mr Ganley believes the number of seats - there are 736 up for grabs - that Libertas manages to win will depend on turnout.

If it is low, he says his political group "will not do well at all." By contrast, a high turnout could result in a surprise, "maybe even something shocking."

Mr Ganley, who says his political movement is against the Lisbon treaty but pro-European, launched a thin programme of principles that his party stands for, but admitted that a proper manifesto is unlikely to appear before the beginning of May.

Currently the party programme consists of a series of protest statements on "holding Brussels to account", cutting down the EU budget; cutting the number of EU meetings by half and letting each member state have a referendum on the treaty.

Mr Ganley called the Lisbon Treaty "an appalling" document and said it was "disgraceful" that taxpayers money was to be used to "inform the Irish people" about the treaty when they had already rejected it.

Libertas has already launched in the UK, Poland, Germany, France, Slovakia and Malta but it has failed to secure to big name pro-European politicians under its banner.

Mr Ganley denies this is because his party cannot find any such people noting rather that it is seeking to differentiate itself by finding people other than "career politicians."

He is also keen to emphasize that Libertas will be the first truly pan-European party, suggesting that other parties such as the European People's Party are just umbrella groups for parties that have little else in common than an agreement to share the "photocopier and the coffee machine".

So far, Libertas has courted much controversy often appearing to be willing to get into political bed with eurosceptic and strongly nationalist parties. An Irish ethics committee also recently raised questions about how it funded the referendum campaign last year.

"We're coming, whether you like it or not," said Mr Ganley, with his movement trying to emulate the grassroots success of US president Barack Obama's campaign and having hired top PR professionals to do the job, such as US election campaigner Joe Trippi, organiser of Democrat Howard Dean's 2004 campaign.

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