One party for all of Europe? Libertas debuts in EU Parliament election
The new party is fielding 600 candidates in two dozen countries. Will EU reform resonate with recession-weary voters?
In Sweden, there's the Pirate Party advocating free Internet for all. The Netherlands has the anti-Islamist Party for Freedom (PVV), and Germany, the Violets Party (Die Violetten), which believes that politics should be more holistic and embrace nature.Skip to next paragraph
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Voters speaking 23 languages throughout 27 countries have diverse choices in the forthcoming European Union elections rolling through June 4 to 7. But one party, Libertas, is arguing that it can appeal across borders and language divides.
The group was formed to oppose the Lisbon Treaty, which sought to streamline the EU's decisionmaking process, but, according to Libertas, gave too much power to unelected officials.
After successfully opposing the Irish referendum, it registered as a political party and is campaigning for political and bureaucratic reform of EU institutions.
"Many of the core themes of the Lisbon Treaty debate were around openness, accountability, and transparency," says Mr. Ganley. Although Libertas was against the Lisbon Treaty, he maintains it is a pro-European party.
"I believe in a successful EU, but it needs a solid foundation of democracy and transparency in its lawmaking and decisionmaking process," he says, adding that the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty reflects a Europewide dissatisfaction with EU institutions, which can be harnessed in the form of votes for Libertas.
But Helen Wallace, centennial professor in the European Institute at the London School of Economics, says that while there is space for a transnational party, Libertas's platform of EU reform will not appeal to the broader constituency.
"In European elections, people tend to vote on national rather than European issues. Only a small proportion have a broadly European perspective when they vote," she says.
Recession, not EU reform, is top of mind
Ireland faces another referendum on the Lisbon Treaty later this year, but most of Europe has left the issue behind, says Edward Moxon-Browne, professor of European integration at the University of Limerick.
"The economic recession is uppermost in people's minds now, not EU reform," he says. "To be fair to Libertas, I think that most of the issues that it raises about the EU are of concern to voters, but they are not a priority."