Wednesday 17 June 2009

Why Tony Barber gets it wrong (on Barroso and on European democracy)

In a new article, Tony Barber of the Financial Times' "Brussels Blog" argues that the centre-left parties now rallying against Barroso have no right to do so.

He says that since they failed to nominate a candidate against Barroso before the elections, they now should hide in their basements and let things go.

I basically agree with his criticism of the failure of the other parties to nominate their own candidate(s) against EPP-baby Barroso before the elections, but Tony gets it wrong when he concludes from this failure that they don't have the right to oppose Barroso now.

To the contrary: The European democracy needs visible opposition, at any time, and especially from forces within the European Parliament. Only if voters see that their vote actually mattered, that "their" parties oppose a candidate of another party, they are able to understand that a political choice during EP elections actually has an influence on EU politics.

Barroso might still be elected, because it remains questionable whether the non-EPP groups would be able to gather a majority around an own candidate like Verhofstadt.

But if the rising opposition against Barroso - who, by the way, was not an EPP candidate when the party ran for the last European elections - is able to show that he is not unquestionable, that he needs to defend himself instead of being passed without democratic scrutiny, this would already be a success of the European Parliament as the guardian of citizens' influence on the European level.

Tony Barber's vision seems to be that of a technocratic European Union, one where political competition may only take place in an election campaign, which is absolutely wrong - so please, Liberals, Greens, Socialists, and independents, rally against Barroso as much as you can!

Read also: Barros vs. Barroso by JEF Europe & Stop Barroso - Too little too late by Kosmopolit