Sunday

25th Aug 2019

Ruling elite under fire in EU elections

Ruling parties in some of the EU's biggest member states are coming under heavy fire in EU election campaigns, giving eurosceptic groups a chance to grab attention.

Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, whose right-wing PDL party is polled to scoop up to 40 percent of the country's EU vote, faced calls to resign on Wednesday (20 May) over alleged links to a corporate bribery scandal.

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

  • UKIP's Mr Farrage - emerging to challenge the UK's ruling Labour party (Photo: EUobserver)

A court in Milan has ruled that a Berlusconi proxy paid British-born lawyer David Mills €435,000 to act as a "false witness" for the premier in a series of fraud trials which implicated the media tycoon. The PM's spokesman said the resignation calls were "politically timed" to damage Mr Berlusconi, who heads his party list.

British eurosceptic party UKIP is to spend €2.3 million in the next two weeks to woo unhappy Labour voters in the wake of the parliament expenses scandal.

"Of the recent inquiries we have had from our first-time buyers [new supporters], around 60 percent of them have come from Labour," UKIP leader Nigel Farrage said, the Times reports. UKIP and Labour are both polling at around 16 percent, compared to UKIP's 6 percent at the start of May.

The anti-Lisbon treaty Libertas party has targeted the Conservative opposition party, which currently leads UK polls, with a video clip making fun of Tory leader David Cameron's apology for the expenses problem. Libertas says the clip has had over 1 million hits.

France's ruling UMP party has fended off a legal challenge against its promotional video, with the audiovisual regulator, the CSA, on Wednesday ruling the clip was not "propaganda."

The centre-right Civic Platform government in Poland has seen its approval ratings dip for the fourth month in a row, according to CBOS surveys. Approval dipped from 44 percent to 42 percent in May. Prime Minister Donald Tusk's personal rating fell three points to 48 percent.

Eurosceptic opposition Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Wednesday said Poland faces an "infernal [economic] crisis," urging Poles to give Civic Platform "a warning" in the EU vote.

Laziest MEPs shamed

The Polish political elite in general has come under fire in articles detailing the laziest MEPs and euro-deputies' lavish lifestyles. Tabloid Fakt said Civic Platform MEP Krzysztof Holowczyc was absent for 65 percent of EU parliament sessions. Daily broadsheet Rzeczpospolita wrote that from June, MEPs are to fly around Europe in business class and have in the past sipped cocktails on African beaches at symposia on poverty.

In Germany, a joint campaign by the ruling CDU and CSU parties is trying to appeal to the most conservative end of the spectrum of centre-right voters.

The campaign focuses on religious issues, such as making a reference to God in future EU treaties, keeping Turkey out of the EU and strengthening the role of the German language in the European Union. The parties also pledge to see if European competences can be clawed back to the national level.

Greek opposition socialist party Pasok has attacked the governing New Democracy faction for dissolving parliament early in what it sees as an attempt to run away from a series of corruption scandals. "Pasok is linking the European elections with national elections," socialist leader George Papandreou said on Wednesday. "We want citizens to ...change the direction of the country."

The Czech left-wing opposition party, the CSSD, is planning to pump up to €2.6 million into its EU election battle against the conservative ODS faction. CSSD chairman Jiri Paroubek said the recent ODS government managed to draw less than 1 percent of EU funds for the country available up to 2013.

Fears over voter apathy are being confirmed in Ireland and Romania, where people appear to be more interested in local by-elections and upcoming presidential elections, respectively, than the EU vote.

Election posters cause annoyance

Irish people have begun to complain about plastic EU election posters obscuring important road signs. In a letter to the Irish Times on Thursday, an academic from the Catholic University of Louvain informs Irish readers that the Belgian government erects temporary structures offering a designated space for a limited amount of recyclable paper posters instead.

Sweden is bucking the trend, however. In Gothenburg, pre-voting in the EU election at the major Nordstan polling station shows that 900 people cast ballots on Wednesday compared to just 278 at the same stage in the general election two years back.

Austrian Greens are doing their bit to kindle EU sympathies, with street theatre in Vienna on Wednesday designed to dispel cliches, such as the notion that Brussels spends all its time regulating on bendy bananas.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government has put forward a legal proposal to EU member states, which would allow the EU parliament to increase the number of MEPs from 736 to 754 as soon as the Lisbon treaty is ratified (potentially in early 2010) instead of in 2014 (as currently envisaged).

The move, reported by the Irish Times, is to be considered at the June EU summit. Spain, France, Sweden, Austria, Britain, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovenia and Malta stand to benefit from the extra seats if it goes through.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us