Thursday

2nd Apr 2020

Libertas vote fails to materialise

  • The future of Libertas now looks uncertain. (Photo: EUobserver)

The leader of the pan-European eurosceptic Libertas party, Declan Ganley, looks highly unlikely to gain a seat in the European Parliament, with voters across the EU also rejecting all but one of the parties other candidates.

As well as raising a big question mark over the party's future, the result also has important implications for ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, with Mr Ganley recently saying he would take a back seat in a second Irish Lisbon referendum if he failed to be elected as an MEP.

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"If I do not get a mandate and win a seat, I would not think it would be the right thing to lead a campaign against the Lisbon Treaty referendum," Mr Ganley recently told Irish television.

Mr Ganley was instrumental in Ireland's rejection of the reformist Lisbon Treaty last June, with a second referendum likely to take place this autumn.

While a seat in the European Parliament would have provided him with a strong platform from which to contest a second referendum, outgoing MEP Marian Harkin said Mr Ganley's objection to the document now appeared to be "suspect".

"If he genuinely believed that was the way to go I think whether he was elected to the European Parliament or not would not have made a difference," she told EUobserver by telephone from the counting house in western Ireland.

Ms Harkin received the highest number of first preference votes in Ireland's three-seat northwest constituency where Mr Ganley is running shortly before the count was halted due to accusations by the Libertas leader that ballot boxes had not been opened according to the correct protocol.

However the count looks set to restart on Monday morning, as weaker candidates are eliminated and their votes distributed under Ireland's ‘single transferable vote' system. No candidate has been elected so far.

Mr Ganley was instrumental in the Irish referendum rejection of the Lisbon Treaty last year, although recent polls show a majority of Irish voters now support the document, primarily a result of the greatly altered economic landscape since the last vote.

Future for Libertas?

The failure of Mr Ganley and the other Libertas candidates in Ireland and the rest of Europe throws a large question mark over the Europe's only pan-European party that was set up only last December to contest the European elections.

The party narrowly missed out on a seat in Latvia with outgoing French MEP Philippe de Villiers the only candidate to have secured a seat under the party banner.

Mr de Villiers who came up with the concept of the "Polish plumber" and more recently "the Bulgarian truck driver" heads the Mouvement Pour La France party which looks set to win 5 percent of the vote compared to 8.84 percent in 2004.

Two other Mouvement Pour la France outgoing MEPs appeared unlikely to regain their seats.

Libertas also failed to gain a seat in Poland where it invested heavily in candidates, and likewise failed in the Czech Republic despite support from the country's eurosceptic president, Vaclav Klaus.

Ukip

Across the Irish Sea, the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) appeared to be doing well as counts came in, with party officials saying they hoped to extend their vote to over 20 percent, up from 16 percent in 2004.

The party is in contention to come second to the Conservatives, with either the Liberal Democrats or Labour likely to come in third place.

"I'm certainly predicting third place and I have my fingers crossed that we will get second place," party leader Nigel Farage said on Sky News, adding that he would "sleep well tonight" if they won 15 MEPs.

In 2004 the party that wants to pull the UK out of the EU won 12 European seats, with three MEPs subsequently leaving the party.

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