20th Mar 2023

Socialists list 'terrible' potential MEPs

In a provocative move ahead of next week's EU vote, the Party of European Socialists have listed a selection of "terrible European election candidates" from other political parties.

The list, published on Thursday (28 May), contains eight nominees from the centre-right European people's party, one from the liberal group, a Dutch politician and the head of the far-right British National Party, Nick Griffin.

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A twelfth space has been left for the "Dear Reader" to fill in.

There seems to be no fixed criteria for appearing on the list, and the reasons given differ in length, content and seriousness.

Mr Griffin, on the list due to his having been convicted for incitement to racial hatred and Holocaust denial, appears alongside Romania's Monica Macovei, a former minister of justice, who is down for "being a perpetual critic of the justice reform pace in Romania" and being a "controversial person."

Centre-right Czech MEP Hynek Fajmon is listed for having voted against the European Parliament's report on future EU policy on climate change. He is quoted as saying "The earth's climate has changed, is changing and will change regardless of whether or not we want it to."

Meanwhile, Peter Stastny, a Slovak centre-right MEP and former ice hockey player, makes an appearance for initiating a "monitoring group for Slovakia in the European People's Party" which "gave the impression that Slovakia lacks a democratic system of government and does not respect human and citizen rights."

Three quotes form the backbone of Polish centre-right politician Marian Krzalewski's inclusion, including: "The [Polish] constitution is worse than the Soviet invasion."

French social affairs minister Brice Hortefeux, running for the centre-right European People's Party, is listed for calling immigrants neither "honest" or "clean", while Estonia's Igor Gräzin's sin was signing up to establish anti-treaty movement Libertas as a group as well as apparently making comments against the Finnish.

"I know many nice Finns and some of them are even politicians. I truly love to be with them in a sauna or a forest ranger's home. But when it comes to policies, I have always a feeling that it is better to look over your shoulder, all the time," he is quoted as saying by the document.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who heads the list for his centre-right party in all five electoral regions but has no intention of actually becoming an MEP is criticised for having "been put on trial at least six times over financial matters" and for his control over the media.

Nothing positive

The blurb at the beginning of the small pamphlet says the PES is not criticising the candidates "but their views."

It says the people listed "will contribute nothing positive to the European Parliament."

PES spokesperson Julian Scola told EUobserver there was no specific criteria for inclusion. "This is just a selection of candidates. Some of the views are offensive and some may be considered absurd"

"We're hoping to spark an interest in the European allies of some of the parties that people may or may not vote for." He said the party was not comparing the politicians to one another and "there's no attempt to link them whatsoever."

However, the move may prove controversial and raise questions about who was included on the list and why.

Putting Ms Macovei on the list, for example, could give a boost to the head of Romania's Socialist delegation, Adrian Severin, who has for a long time tried to discredit her in Europe. She has long riled the political establishment with her anti-corruption drive.

For its part, the EPP dismissed the move as an attention-grabbing stunt. "Instead of debating the serious issues that European citizens are concerned with, the PES has resorted to cheap populism," said the head of the EPP, Wilfried Martens.

The centre-right has been predicted to hold on to majority in the parliament after the 4-7 June elections, while the Socialists are expected to maintain their place as second biggest faction in the EU assembly.


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