The first item of business was the endorsement of the new Secretary General of ELDR, Jacob Moroza-Rasmussen, who took up his duties in
September, coming to the organisation from a background of private enterprise and politics.
Next came new applications for membership from the Free Democrats of Georgia, the Civic List from Slovenia and, from the Czech Republic, LIDEM. The Georgians and the Czechs were approved enthusiastically, following some fairly gentle questioning. However, liberal forces are somewhat dispersed in Slovenia, and Civic List were given a rather more robust examination, particularly from those present from other Slovene parties. They were, however, accepted as observer members.
The next item was, perhaps unexpectedly, a proposal to change the name of the organisation from ELDR to ALDE, coincidentally the name under which the Liberal Group in the European Parliament operates. The argument was that a name change would allow some European political groups to work more closely with, and potentially join, our Party.
There were some serious concerns raised. Rumours that the change was designed to enable a merger with European Greens were denied, amid suggestions that such a merger would force some of the economic liberal members, such as VVD and the German Free Democrats to jump ship. There were also those who worried about a dilution of our liberal principles, a point raised by Julie Smith on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.
A formal vote on the proposed change will take place tomorrow at 11.45 a.m.
We were running rather behind schedule by this point, and the next subject was hardly likely to help that. The small matter of the European Parliamentary campaign for 2014, including the timetable for drawing up a Europe-wide manifesto was the subject of more heated discussion. Interestingly, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal Group in the European Parliament, raised the prospect of holding the Parliamentary election in May, rather than June, 2014. He also raised the possibility of an agreed candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission (rumour has it that he would quite like to be that candidate…).
The Liberal Democrat constitutional expert, Andrew Duff, noted the radical change in the way that the next President will be elected, noting that the Parliament will elect him or her directly, and we’ll try and find out more about that in the coming weeks.
And with that, the meeting was adjourned. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with a report on the rest of the business.
* Mark Valladares may just have attended his last ELDR Council for a while…y