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Monday, October 11, 2010

Rasmussen writes on choosing the next Commission President

In a recent article on the renewal of European Social Democracy published in "Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft" (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung), Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, PES President, had this to say on the selection of a PES candidate for the next President of the European Commission:

"This is why the PES has committed itself to a course of action that will produce a clear democratically elected candidate to front the European elections. Giving a face to a political platform is imperative in today’s politics, especially in such difficult elections as the European ones. To make this election relevant, citizens must know that their vote can shape the executive and change policies. We have therefore made a commitment to choose a PES candidate for the European Commission presidency for the next European elections. This candidate will be expected to inspire party activists but also, most importantly, potential voters."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dan Luca (PSD Romania) says David Milliband for EU Commission President.

In a provocative article entitled "David Milliband - President of the European Commission in 2014", Dan Luca, President of the Romanian Social Democrats in Brussels, argues that the Party of European Socialists could attract the brother of the next British Prime Minister to be the PES candidate for Commission President in 2014. In order to attract candidates of the stature of David Milliband to run for the PES nomination it would be necessary to open the decision-making process to the individual members of the PES in democratic primaries.

Dan argues:

From a European point of view David inspires as a real politician, with big potential to become the President of European Commission in 2014. But the EU and the election system needs to change in order to get politicians like David involved at a European level ...

The key of my proposed mechanism is open elections of a representative for the Left as a candidate for the President of the European Commission. The selection phase should be very easy, clear and transparent. The decisive line is empowerment of the members, the activists. Their choice is the most important here. If too many bodies of the Socialists come together to "elect" the leader, this is not good.

In each of the 27 countries there need to be primary elections in 2013, and each country would have a winner who takes the number of the country´s votes. A more complicated election formula will be demotivating for the members.

In my opinion, David Miliband is one of the possible candidates for such an “exercise” and for sure a lot of Socialists would like to see him in the position of the President of the EC in 2014.

Dan finishes his blog article by asking a very loaded question:

Have we spotted a European “Obama” in the political arena?

Paul Alliès (PS France) writes on democratic primaries.

Paul Alliès is a professor at the Université de Montpellier, Secrétaire national adjoint for the Rénovation du Parti Socialiste and President of the Convention pour la 6° République (C6R). In an article on the well-known French blogsite, Mediapart.fr, entitled "Les primaires font tache d'huile en Europe", (Primaries are spreading throughout Europe), Paul discusses the recent meeting of the PES Network on Modernising Politics that was held at PES headquarters on the 23rd September.

In an interesting article, Paul describes the different procedures at the national level to select party leaders in social democratic and socialist parties in Europe. He states "The generalisation of primaries in Europe is a way towards another type of party, more respectful of the choice and weight of ordinary citizens"

Paul also comments on the Campaign for a PES Primary:

Un groupe s'est même formé de "PSE activists" avec principalement des militants irlandais, anglais et portugais pour mener campagne dans les réseaux sociaux en faveur d'une telle perspective (sur Facebook: Campaign for a PES Primary; et sur Twitter@PESPrimary). La généralisation des primaires en Europe apparaît donc comme une voie de passage, modeste mais inéluctable vers un autre type de parti plus respectueux du choix et du poids des citoyens ordinaires. Il n'est pas secondaire que ce soit la vieille social-démocratie qui porte ce changement.

A group has even been formed by "PES activists" comprising mostly Irish, English and Portuguese activists to campaign on social networks to support such a view (on Facebook: Campaign for a PES Primary, and on Twitter @ PESPrimary). The generalisation of primaries in Europe appears to be a path, modest but inevitable, towards another type of party more respectful of the choices and weight of ordinary citizens. Neither is it a secondary issue for old social-democracy to bring about this change."

Translation errors are my own. Desmond O'Toole.

Monday, October 4, 2010

La Repubblica discuses Campaign

In his blog, the Brussels correspondent for La Repubblica, one of Italy's main daily newspapers, discusses the Campaign for a PES Primary. In an article entitled, Si preparano le primarie europee, Andrea Bonanni, writes:

L’idea di lasciare ai militanti, e non ai governi o alle segreterie nazionali, il compito di designare il possibile presidente della Commissione è in sé rivoluzionaria. E probabilmente, se il PSE non avesse toccato il fondo della crisi alle ultime elezioni europee, neppure l’establishment socialista l’avrebbe accettata.

The idea of leaving to the militants, not the governments or the national secretariats, the task of designating the possible President of the Commission is in itself revolutionary. And probably, if the PES had not reached the bottom of its [electoral] crisis in the last European elections, not even the Socialist establishment would have accepted [this proposal].

Andrea also comments:

Tuttavia, se i socialisti riuscissero davvero ad organizzare una vera mobilitazione della base e vere primarie come avviene negli USA, probabilmente costringerebbero anche il PPE a fare altrettanto. Il risultato sarebbe che, chiunque vinca le elezioni, l’Europa si troverebbe per la prima volta ad avere un leader con una legittimazione democratica pari o superiore a quella dei capi di governo. Resta da capire se esista, oggi, in Europa, una personalità della sinistra in grado di coagulare un ampio consenso transnazionale.

However, if the Socialists were able to actually organize a real mobilization of the base and a true primary [like those] in the U.S., they would probably force the PPE to do likewise. The result would be that, whoever wins the election, Europe would, for the first time, have a leader with a democratic legitimacy equal to or greater than that of the heads of government. It remains to be seen whether, in today's Europe, a person of the left can bring together such a broad, transnational consensus .

Errors in translation are all my own. Desmond O'Toole.

Portuguese Press comments on campaign

Sábado, a Portuguese weekly, published an article (Friday 1st October) on the Campaign for a PES Primary entitled Português pode revolucionar Partido Socialista Europeu. In discussing the growth of the campaign for democratic primaries the article observes:

Esta ideia granjeou rapidamente simpatias um pouco por toda a Europa. Durante os últimos meses o assunto ganhou grande relevo na imprensa internacional.

This idea quickly gained some sympathy throughout Europe. Over the past few months the issue has gained great prominence in the international press.