Wednesday

28th Jul 2021

Blacklist: Italian MEP defames own political family to save face

  • Italian centre-right MEP Fulvio Martusciello: "Sorry, but I didn't find it in my mail" (Photo: ep.europa.eu)

A senior Italian MEP made his own political family appear crooked to try to save face over fake election-monitoring.

Meanwhile, a far-left MEP has pleaded innocence over her trip to Ecuador.

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  • French far-left MEP Leïla Chaibi: claimed was reprimanded for "one tweet" (Photo: ep.europa.eu)

Eight MEPs were recently blacklisted and three were formally reprimanded for "unofficial election observation" by the European Parliament's (EP) election-monitoring oversight unit, the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group (DEG).

The blacklist sees them banned from doing official EP trips.

One of those who got a formal warning was Fulvio Martusciello, a senior MEP from the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), who chairs the EP's Central Asia delegation.

But when asked about it by EUobserver, he initially claimed he never received a warning letter.

And he instead shared details of a friendly-sounding email exchange between himself and a fellow EPP deputy and DEG co-chair, David McAllister, to give the impression that McAllister was OK about him going to Kazakhstan during elections earlier this year.

Martusciello did, in fact, get a formal warning letter, however.

The text, co-signed by McAllister, and seen by EUobserver, complained that he was in breach of EP rules and that "any future unofficial observation of elections, even if unaccompanied by statements to the media ... will lead to the immediate suspension from future official EP election observation delegations".

It also complained he went to a "state dinner" at the oriental dictatorship during his three-day visit to Nūr-Sūltan during elections in January.

"Sorry, but I didn't find it in my mail ... I have been out of the office for a week," Martusciello told EUobserver on Monday (28 June), when confronted with the DEG's letter of reprimand.

He declined to answer further questions, for instance: why the Kazakh government paid for his visit, as he admitted that it had done to EP staff who spoke to EUobserver?

"My email had no intention to endorse his [Martusciello's] trip whatsoever. I immediately informed the DEG secretariat to signal his intentions," McAllister told this website.

An EP source also said: "McAllister asked the DEG to blacklist Martusciello, but the secretariat couldn't do it for technical reasons, because Martusciello did not publicly state he was on an EP mission while in Kazakhstan".

"Giving the impression the DEG acted in a partisan way is highly damaging to its work - the EP is actually one of the only parliaments in the world who takes this [fake monitoring] seriously," the EP source added.

The EPP group leader, Manfred Weber, and McAllister did not say if their political group would take any additional action on Martusciello for making the EPP and DEG appear partisan.

Meanwhile, the DEG also reprimanded a far-left French MEP, Leïla Chaibi, for her election-monitoring trip to Ecuador in April.

"You announced on social media your presence in Ecuador as part of an election observation mission of the European Parliament ... the European Parliament did not observe these elections," Chaibi's warning letter said.

It also said that any more such behaviour would lead to her "immediate suspension from future official EP election observation delegations".

Chaibi initially did not reply to EUobserver's questions.

But when this website named her in its previous article on the DEG, she published a press release accusing EUobserver of "defamation".

Flying visit

Chaibi said she was in Ecuador between 8 and 13 April on the invitation of the National Electoral Council "in her capacity as a European deputy".

She added that the DEG reprimand was based on "one tweet, one single tweet out of 15 which I posted during my trip, which might have given the impression that my trip was done under the auspices of an official European Parliament mission".

Her office also complained that she was named in the same story as far-right MEPs who had observed elections in Russia-occupied Crimea in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan.

"We are ... far from suspicion of corruption or false observation missions, as with the elected officials of the RN," Chaibi's office said, referring to the Rassemblement National, a French far-right party.

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