Thursday 8 January 2009

EP Elections 2009 (34): European Liberals (ALDE) want British Graham Watson to be the next European Parliament President

They don' see the chance to get the post of the President of the European Commission. But now they have found something new.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament has announced in a press release that it wants its group leader Graham Watson to become the next President of the European Parliament.

In fact, this is truly the only major EU post that is exclusively chosen and elected by the European Parliament, so there is some sense in running for this post. It is also the only realistic chance for ALDE to get a major post at all.

But who is this Graham Watson?

I have to say that I saw him some two years ago during a conference in the European Parliament, but he did not leave a particular impression on me, which might not be his fault since I was in a rush and he seemed in a rush, not the perfect occasion to leave an impression. I think I have seen him at another event somewhere in the Union, but I don't remember him particularly.

So let's have a look at we can get about him:
  • He is English (i.e. British).
  • He is a liberal.
  • He is in the European Parliament for 15 years (three periods).
  • He has some kind of blog and some kind of videoblog (also published on Youtube).
  • He was the Chairman of the EP's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs.
I think that is enough about him. He has not been particularly interesting for the European public, I suppose, but he's better than nothing.

The youth wing of the European Liberal Party (called LYMEC) not surprisingly supports this initiative, especially since they have demanded a personalisation of the European election process.

To be honest: Watson's chances are pretty low, taking into account that the Socialists and Conservatives (i.e. the PES and the EPP) will most probably make the same deal as last time sharing the position of the EP president between these two major groups during the next five years. Yet, Pat Cox proved that it is not impossible for an ELDR politician to get into this position, so campaigning for Mr Watson is at least a sign of some kind of ambition.

Nevertheless, it is rather a lack of ambition by the Liberals not to put forward an own candidate for the next European Commission presidency, an opportunity lost at the last Congress of the European Liberal Party.

Taking Mr Watson as candidate for EP presidency is just a small sign of politicisation of the European elections, not more and not less.

Under the category "Tracking: European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.


Ralf Grahn said...


Yes, the press release had a nice ring to it, until it dawned on me that it was EP, not Commission President Graham Watson wanted to become (as you rightly concluded).

My vote in the EP elections in June 2009 is going to go to a party with a pan-European candidate for the Commission Presidency.

There is still time for ELDR / ALDE to be among the contenders...

Anonymous said...

Herr Frisch,

As the UK will likely be unable to afford 2009 contributions due to year end exchange rate manipulations making a UK presence unlikely in the EU Parliament after June, it might be best for the liberals to pick another contender.

I jest of course although I have just posted an interesting graph on my blog which is not at all funny!