2014 – the year of an election the media might miss

This year starts with media attention turning towards European elections in the Spring, and will end with the political parties cranking through the gears in anticipation of a General Election. In between, though, there are two elections that matter, one in Brussels (or, in an interesting turn of events, Athens), one in the Liberal Democrats, each of which will serve as a marker towards future events.

First, the European one. After the European elections, the European Council will vote, using qualified majority voting and bearing in mind the results of the elections, for a nominee to become the new President of the European Commission. The European Parliament then votes on whether or not to agree their proposal, with a simple majority required. Or, should I say, not so simple, as no one group is likely to be able to form a majority on its own, which is when the bargaining will begin, and the identity of the nominees of the various political groups comes into play.

Once a winner emerges, he or she will work with the Council to select a team to form the new Commission which, if approved by the Parliament, will be confirmed by the Council, again using qualified majority voting.

It sounds complex, but what it means is that Europe will be run by a coalition, with a primary question being, what sort of direction will it take?

The Socialists and the Left have already announced their candidates – Martin Schulz (SPD, Germany) and Alexis Tsipras (SYRIZA, Greece) – whilst the Greens will announce theirs at the end of this month, and ALDE soon afterwards, with the European People’s Party (EPP) due to select in early March.

Whatever happens, it’s likely to involve a lot of negotiations in smoke-filled rooms (or the metaphorical equivalent now that smoking is banned from virtually all public buildings!), and will therefore be much too complicated for any of the British media except the Economist and the Financial Times.

I suspect that only three candidates really matter, those of the Socialists, ALDE and the EPP, and that the winner is most likely to come from the two bigger groups, but the decision that is reached will determine, amongst other things, whether or not David Cameron’s wished-for Treaty renegotiation is a dream or a reality. It’s a pity that, as the Conservatives aren’t serious players in the contest, they may not have much influence…

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.

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