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Barroso, the candidate of all European parties?

This is as confusing as it is absurd. In yesterday’s meeting the EPP leaders back Barroso for a second term as president of European Commission but still no party is behind Barroso’s ambition to renew his mandate as president of the European Commission.

One could expect that if the leaders of a party back a candidate of the same party and nobody in the party opposes, this candidate would become THE candidate of THE party. Not in European politics.

Same as EPP, the European Socialist Party has no official candidate for president of the European Commission. When Rasmussen, PSE president, was asked about the PSE candidate in the presentation of the PSE manifesto he said that they hadn’t decided on a candidate “yet”. At the same time socialist prime ministers such as Zapatero, Socrates or Brown already openly expressed their support for Barroso. I guess it is easy to back a candidate when the contest is a false one…

Barroso, the president of what is to be the executive body of the EU,  is backed by individuals. These individuals are not “normal” individuals; they are heads of state and heads of governments. However, what does it say about the future president of the European Commission and the Commission as a whole?

Firstly, that the “European interest” can’t be defended by a body whose president is held hostage by heads of state and governments. The role of defending the interest of the member-states was the role of the president of the European Council but it seems like the Commission is dangerously shifting towards the intergovernmentalist option.

Secondly, and as a consequence, no expectations about leadership or initiative should be put on a body elected without a political program and that is held hostage of the interest of the member-states.

Leadership is crucial in times of crisis and without a strong European Commission taking the initiative to regulate the financial markets, in raising resources for a economic relaunch, in investing in the infrastructure necessary to launch a new green economy the EU is doomed to fail to its citizens.

Leadership comes from personality but also from legitimacy and recognition. Why should the Europeans, even those who will to vote in the European Parliament elections, feel that Barroso is representing them? They will vote for a program that can’t be implemented because Barroso’s program is improvised in the heads of state meetings and not subjected to public scrutiny.

If the EPP happens to have the same political program as Barroso -which would make sense if he belongs to the party the leaders of which support him- why isn’t Barroso the candidate of the EPP? Is the EPP scared that if they declare Barroso as their candidate the socialists might be forced to declare that Barroso is NOT their candidate?

By Barroso not being the candidate of any party… should we interpret that he is the “de-facto” candidate of all parties?

If so, we certainly live in a strange stage of the European democracy…


  1. Yes, Barroso is the de facto candidate of all parties, since EPP supports him openly, PES doesn’t oppose him, the Liberals have put forward their candidate only for the EP presidency, and all other European parties do not cover this topic at all…

  2. Thats not true. The greens are strongly against Barroso. Here are two examples:

    Monica Frassoni, former Sec Gen of JEF Europe and now spokesperson of the green group gave a recent interview:

    The green group just made a group-release as the EU-Observer wrote: “The Greens (42 MEPs) are similarly against. “The Greens are making a final appeal for Barroso to make a new proposal if he does not want his Commission to be completely weakened” said a group statement.” Read more:

    And PS: The Greens have a leading team of five candidates coming from five nations in Europe. If thats not Europe and Federalism what else?

  3. The reason that the Greens give for not having nominated a candidate is because they acknowledge that they have no chance of winning. This is a fair and honest point but at national level it is clear that they will also not win and they still nominate their candidate just to give a face to the party.

    I share the Greens criticism towards Barroso but what is the alternative proposal then?

    Being against Barroso is a democratic right and in my opinion a necessary stand after the what the EC has delivered. However, criticising without giving an alternative tends to weaken the system more than strengthen it.

  4. Again, the reality looks different: In Germany we don’t have one person running our national campaign. We have as we are organizing it in Europe 5 people in a socalled “Spitzenteam” meaning leading team who consists of the two spokespersons of the party +three other popular candidates.

    And concerning the point that it is very difficult to give an alternative proposal. But also if the greens say they are having their own candidate it wouldnt change anything in the end. So it is up to the PSE. We have to come to a more political EU meaning that the partys in the Parliament build coalitions for different political directions. But its first up to the big partys who are also mostly in the national governments to go a step forward. The small ones have to be more EUropean in other areas. For example having a European kick off for the common campaign.

  5. Dane Silva

    At least Barroso is running serious: look, a website managed by a think tank of Christian Democrats, Center for European Studies. If not openly declared, Barroso seems to be clearly the top dog of the Center-right in European elections.

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