Update (28 January 2009): Read also the follow-up article with the the comparison between the PES and ELDR manifestos.
The European Liberal Democrat and Reform (ELDR) party has published the draft program for its next congress from 29 to 31 October 2008 in Stockholm.
Apparently, only six hours will be spent on the final drafting of and voting on the electoral manifesto. On 30 October 2008 there are two drafting sessions, from 10.30 to 12.30 and 15.30 to 17.30. And on 31 October 2008, from 14.00 to 16.00 there will be the voting (supposedly on the draft manifesto and possible amendments) on the manifesto.
The process leading to the draft manifesto has been described in one of the party's publications from April 2008:
The programme is developing in the format of a ten point action plan, the first stage of which was a consultation of ELDR member parties and stakeholders.
Following this process, four priority themes have been identified, which member parties and supporters would like to see included in the ELDR 2009 Manifesto.
Workshops composed of representatives of ELDR member parties that are experts in the fields of civil liberties and immigration (“liberal Europe”), the EU Single Market, and foreign, security and defence policy are scheduled to discuss and define two to four policy statements on each subject that will be included in the electoral Manifesto. The first such workshop on foreign, security and defence policy took place in Tallinn on 11th April in the framework of the ELDR Council meeting.
Let us compare this with the description of the process of the Party of European Socialists (PES):
From October 2007 to 1 July 2008, the PES ran an open consultation on its manifesto for the 2009 European elections. The consultation was a big success: 300,000 visitors, 500 posts, 100 videos, 1,350 members in our Facebook group, more than 60 written contributions from PES member parties, NGOs, Foundations and activists. Moreover, 3,000 activists joined us during the process.
A draft manifesto will be drawn up on the basis of that consultation, and there will be discussions within the PES between the end of the consultation and the adoption of the final document. The PES manifesto will be adopted by the PES Council - a mini-Congress with voting representatives from all member parties - in December 2008.
At a first glance, the PES process seems to be more oriented towards broader participation (and the figures support this analysis), while the ELDR seems to be more expert oriented, although it remains unclear how the "consultation of ELDR member parties and stakeholders" has been conducted.
At a second glance, however, it is also not too clear how open the process within the PES has been and will be since the public consultations have ended: Who decides which of the ideas and proposals of the manifesto consulations are included in the draft manifesto? It is also not specified what a "mini-congress" will be and whether there will be actually more time spent on discussions about the final version of the manifest than the six hours ELDR is planning to spend. Still, the pre-drafting consultation figures are quite impressive and far beyond what I have seen and heard about on the national level.
I would have also liked to add more about the other parties, but so far, I could not find any indications of the specific process the European Peoples Party (EPP) or the European Green Party (EGP), which is why I can only compare ELDR and PES. I hope I provide you with more information in the future.
But comparing PES and ELDR, the PES at least manages to keep on an open debate, which creates the feeling of better involvement of the public in the process (PES secretariat staff is even openly commenting on my articles). Whether this will bring more activism and identification with the final document will have to be proven.
And it will be interesting to see whether the other parties will try to keep up with this kind of publicity after the summer break.
Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.
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