Thursday

26th May 2022

Opinion

The EP presidency: why support the right?

  • Sira Rego: 'The majority looks likely to support a conservative candidate opposed to women's sexual and reproductive health and rights - is support for a candidate whose agenda substantially overlaps with the far-right the only path?' (Photo: The Left)
Listen to article

In a few days, MEPs will elect a new president of the European Parliament, the top post in the only EU institution elected by direct suffrage.

The election will be marked by the untimely passing of David Sassoli, a president who steered the parliament through an extremely complex and challenging period. During his term in office, he showed that it was possible to reach agreements through much-needed dialogue, and away from dogmas.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

One key problem that characterises the European Parliament is that it lacks power to make legislative proposals.

This makes it de facto a fundamentally deliberative space. An institution that, given its supranational character, serves to debate and alter the frameworks for coexistence.

Parliament is a perfect vehicle for producing new consensus. But what does this mean? Given these times of eco-social crisis, the crisis of the current model, and the rise of the far right, the European Parliament is an ideal place to shape, debate and forge ideas on what constitutes "common sense" in our countries. The ideas that define how we live.

This might seem like a minor issue, but in the current context, it has become crucial. The European parliament is an extremely useful instrument in the battle of ideas: the cultural battle.

One only has to look at the latest debates and glance at the parliament's agenda to understand how it works and how it affects us.

Take the example of the dehumanisation of migrants, the discourse that brands the humanitarian crisis as "hybrid warfare" or the offensive against LGBTQI+ rights and women's sexual and reproductive health and rights.

All these debates, which a few years ago would have been unthinkable because they represent an attack on fundamental rights, are now part of parliament's daily agenda.

Of course, for us to have reached this point requires a certain ideological production to be sustained for years by a majority. On too many occasions, an outdated conservative coalition has strived to determine the boundaries of the debate.

This majority has been responsible for the austerity policies and cuts that have left us with stunted states, aggravating the general perception of insecurity and uncertainty.

With the emergence of the far right and its mud-slinging politics, it is clear that this formula has entered into an irresolvable contradiction. This coalition of the past is a false cordon-sanitaire: the agenda of the far right has already seeped through it.

Foregone conclusion for conservatives?

That is why this election - even if its conclusion seems forgone as the majority looks likely to support a conservative candidate opposed to women's sexual and reproductive health and rights - is still an opportunity to initiate debate on another possible arrangement. Is support for a candidate whose agenda substantially overlaps with the far right the only path?

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that there is currently a struggle taking place between a reactionary tendency and a more progressive and social tendency.

In the face of the agenda of hate, fear and retreat, there is a shared need to defend the social state, public services, decent wages, rebalancing the care gap by giving voice to the feminist agenda, in short: defending rights.

It has been proven that in the European parliament another possible sum of forces can exist.

Progressive forces have put forward more ambitious positions than the Commission or Council on major questions such as the recovery fund or vaccine patents. We have shown that an alliance of progressive forces is essential to lead social progress agreements in the European institutions.

That is why we present our candidacy for the presidency.

Because we firmly believe that there is still time for an alternative vision and, above all, that we must prevent the European Parliament from becoming the stronghold of old formulas that allow the far right to gain a foothold.

We, therefore, propose a new pact for the construction of a new consensus. We propose to abandon the old cosy deals of the past and to consider the possibility of new frameworks of agreement between progressive forces, a pact for the future based on the defence of human rights, on the promotion of measures that guarantee decent working conditions, on a productive model adapted to the challenges of climate change, on the defence of public services.

We want to achieve a feminist, environmentalist and fraternal consensus. A pledge to reject and halt the normalisation of hatred. A new pact that offers hope.

Author bio

Sira Rego MEP is The Left's candidate for president of the European Parliament.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president

Looking at the historical record, a clear picture emerges: the president of the European Parliament is an above-middle aged white man, most likely German — and with an overwhelming likelyhood to be conservative or socialist.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Agenda

New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

The lead candidate is the centre-right European People's Party's (EPP) Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who has been outspoke against corruption and rule-of-law issues - but some MEPs are concerned over her anti-abortion voting record.

Letter

Right of Reply: Hungarian government

The government in Budapest responds to EUobserver opinion piece "Are Orban's Covid powers now the 'new normal' in Hungary?"

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Column

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back

Ukraine is finally understood — and hopefully Belarus will be soon too — as a self-standing society and state with close links to its EU neighbours, rather being relegated to Russia's backyard.

Brexit hostility to Good Friday Agreement is damaging UK in US

Democratic Unionist MPs could affirm unequivocally they support the Good Friday Agreement, with no return of a border with physical controls on movement of people, goods or agricultural produce within the island of Ireland — but they won't.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us