ALDE Party Council preview – consequences, consequences…

There’s always something to distract you during a General Election campaign. And, in my case, that’s the ALDE Party Council meeting that will take place on Saturday in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. Yes, we’ll be sending a full delegation, albeit with an element of substitution, including a guest Baroness, but flights have been rearranged to keep absences as short as possible.

The main topic of conversation is going to be the fallout from the European Parliament elections last week, and the impact on Europe’s direction in the coming years. Whilst Renew Europe might not have had a great result, ironically that impacted more on the non-ALDE Party element, particularly the French. I’d argue that the Macronistas have had rather more influence over the past five years than their numbers should have suggested, and a rebalancing of the relationship is surely due.

There is some good news, in that the impact on the Party’s finances appears to be minimal – grants to European political parties are linked to the number of MEPs that you “sign up”. That suggests that liberal influence, as opposed to centrist influence, remains significant.

The other “hot button” issue is that of another member party’s arrangement with the populist right, this time VVD, our Dutch sister party, whose link up with Geert Wilder’s PVV has alarmed many of the more social liberal elements within ALDE. I have to say that, consistent with my view that what a coalition does is more important than its constituents, I’m willing to place a little faith in the VVD leadership, at least for now. And yes, perception matters, but the debate over how liberals deal with the rise of populism has been simmering for some time without any broad sense of agreement and this sort of situation is becoming more prevalent, at least for now.

There are three membership applications to be considered, transitions to full membership from parties in Andorra and Georgia, and an associate membership application from another Georgian party. If accepted, ALDE will have five member parties in Georgia, which is probably at least three too many but one must hope that, by bringing them under one umbrella, they may be able to work together towards forming a unified liberal voice.

There’ll doubtless be urgency resolutions, although the deadline isn’t until Thursday, so we await the possible drama…

* Mark Valladares is a member of the Party’s delegation to ALDE Party Council.

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