ELDR Council: they think it’s all over! Oh no it isn’t!

Today’s events kicked off with the twice-annual meeting of ELDR Council.

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

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  • I’m almost crying here. I can’t believe you didn’t question LIDEM (the Czech party) slightly less gently! Did anybody in the ELDR do their research beforehand? LIDEM are dodgy – they came out of an utterly dodgy party (illiberal and not very democratic at all) party called VV , whose practices they supported for way too long before suddenly deciding to leave in order to prop up the government in a somewhat questionable deal.

  • In fact I am crying 🙂 the tears are running down my face! Which sounds silly, but this is a serious disappointment for me. I hoped for the longest time that someone would start an ELDR-member party here (in the Czech Republic) in the wake of the defunct Unie svobody, and then I found out that these guys were applying. I know you can have two member parties from the same country, but still.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Nov '12 - 12:00pm

    Mark: Check formatting: your runaway italic markup has got everywhere!

  • Was wondering what was up with the italics!

    There’s also a lot of bad feeling against LIDEM here because they’ve never stood in an election (and yet are in government, with three ministers). Under the Czech constitution, they do of course have every right to form a new party because the mandate is tied to the person and not the party. However, it all adds to the generally very poor reception that the party has had. I haven’t come across a single political commentator who has given them any credit. (It’s not like the LD-bashing in the UK over what we’ve done in government – it’s worse than that). I suppose my main fear is that it discredits the ELDR and liberalism in general in the Czech Republic at a time when we can’t afford for that to happen.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Nov '12 - 3:49pm

    …or the Austrian Freedom Party

  • Thanks , Mark. especially for this – “one must hope that we can draw them towards a genuinely liberal stance” – at the end of the day, that’s all that any of us can hope for, wherever we are. The Czech Republic has got itself into a huge mass of corruption over the last few years in particular, but on the positive side the frustration with where things have got to is now running so high that people are becoming much more assertive in trying to stand up to it.

    It’s highly likely that LIDEM will disappear from the scene in the next election, so things will sort themselves out . In the meantime , they may do some good on occasion, although they’re unlikely to provide much of a liberal voice. They do have one or two people who seem OK (Paggio, for example, strikes me as a good guy who’s got into the wrong company!)

    At least things aren’t as bad as in Hungary, though! I hadn’t realised that FIDESZ were once liberals! – I’d thought they’d always been in the People’s Party.

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