Thursday 9 July 2009

Why Jerzy Buzek is the wrong choice for the European Parliament presidency

After looking at Jerzy Buzek's Votewatch profile and seeing him win over Mario Mauro (EPP) and Graham Watson (ALDE), I still have to briefly say why he is the wrong choice for the European Parliament presidency.

As a big fan of Central and Eastern Europe I am happy that someone from Poland will become the next president of the European Parliament. I also don't mind that the EPP will get the presidency of the EP. And it is an asset that thanks to his Solidarity background he can claim to be part of the group of people who co-initiated the fall of the wall 20 years ago.

But Jerzy Buzek is still the wrong choice, for three simple reasons:
  • He is old.
  • He is male.
  • He has built his political career on national politics.
The European Parliament is not the big legislator it sometimes thinks it is, no matter whether its importance has been rising steadily over the last 30 years.

So one of the main political instruments the EP has are symbolic decisions, decisions that rise above the standard message of politics. The EP could have made a choice of such symbolic value, but it looks as if it won't.

Party politics and power positions are dominated by old males. With Barroso in place for a second term on top of the European Commission, and with no women in sight for the post of European Council president and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy (if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified), the post of the European Parliament president could have been the only one where MEPs could have made a point for equal opportunities and equal share of power. But they have missed their chance.

How to engage the younger generation in (European) politics, if only worn-out old male politicians are the example of who can make it in our democracy?

And the third point is equally important:

Jerzy Buzek has no distinct European profile. His career is built on his Solidarity background, and when he left the national stage after his term as prime minister his reputation had been very low.

He has spent only four years in the European Parliament, and now he is chosen as EP president in a series of power deals between the Socialists, the People's Party and the Liberals, while he still says in the EuroparlTV interview (see also Anda's comment on Twitter) that his nomination is a matter of pride for Poland.

I don't want someone who makes one country proud, I want somebody who makes the European Union proud of itself!

This is the absolutely wrong sign for the European "democracy", especially for my generation, who is desperately looking for people like Alex Stubb or Cecilia Malmström who hold high national offices after having been an MEP, write blogs, and (in Alex's case) can still run an Ironman in their free time.

I want those for high European posts, not their fathers.

Politicians like Buzek - as nice as he may be - or his predecessor Pöttering, the elder statesman puppets, bore me to death - and with them, nobody should be surprised that young people don't go to vote and don't show interest in the EU.


french derek said...

Come on, Julien, you know why Buzek has been chosen?

Each country other than Poland now has a better chance of an important Commissioner post. Simple politics (forget democracy).

Julien Frisch said...

They didn't have a good Commission portfolio before, either. So why bother?

Anyway, I don't care why he is the new EP president, I am just think he's wrong on that post.

Anonymous said...

Being a Pole (and a European), I unfortunately agree with Julien that Buzek is not the best choice, though may be for slightly different reasons. Male and old? Should we now have a rule saying that only young girls are eligible? Welcome to the world of socialist PC. The reasons why he is a bad choice is because he is a boring man of compromise. But I think this is precisely the main reason WHY he was chosen :-))

Julien Frisch said...

There is still a difference between a 70-year-old standard male politician and younger person, female or male (I only gave two examples), that can inspire the public instead of alienate it from politics and democracy.

Unknown said...

For european politicians the most valuable skill is to be able to reach the compromise. Dealing with over 700 MEPs from 27 totally different states is not just a part-time job for anybody. Thus, i don't think that any of EP Presidents should be a dictator :-)

Besides, do you really think that only young and female(?) politicians can be inspiring for the public across the Europe? EP President should have an influence, not only on young people (by the year 2050, over 50% of europeans will be over 60 y.o.).

I hope that seeing Mr Buzek's career and activity will be enough inspiring to interest some of young europeans to be more involved in EU politics :)

Julien Frisch said...

EP presidents shouldn't be dictators and they need to be able to build compromises. Didn't say anything against that.

But EP presidents also have a public function, since they represent the only directed body of the European Union. So they need to be a beacon of light in the valley of despair, which I don't see with Buzek as I didn't see it with Pöttering before.

And no, I don't necessarily want a woman, but a European Union without any women in its top positions is a very bad example for the policies it wants to promote...

Anonymous said...

Hi Julien!
I understand everybody owns some preferences regarding who is "right" person for given post. In my opinion it is irrelevant who as long as EP plays marginal role in current configuration of EU. Political games are making the whole issue somewhat unrealistic from perspective of common people or voter. Don't you think that we have next to nothing to say when it comes to have influence of EP members? UE should be the union of sovereign countrys whitout cap ruling national parlaments. Otherwise we will end up in social-totalitarism. With current configuration of EU and so called political correctness as it dominated political games there is no hope for better perspective. So far EU with its EP didn't impove significantly life of people. Instead countrys are loosing their authonomy for mistic and manipulated future under undemocratic so called European Union.

Anonymous said...

Buzek is definetly a good choice for EP president. I'm young and i totally disagree with you Julien. Each Europian country shoud have a chance to states in EPP . I'm sure that he will be representing Europe well.

Julien Frisch said...

Dear Anonymous,

thanks for voicing your opinion - I am glad you do this.

As I have said that at the beginning of the article, I am still glad that a Pole has been chosen for the post, but I find it a pity that they weren't able of finding a person who is not just "historic" in a backwards-looking way, but one that would have been historic in a forward-looking sense.

Anonymous said...

Well, good or bad, you can communicate with Jerzy Buzek on his Facebook page. Not only is he the first EP President from Central and Eastern Europe, he is the first EP President to use Facebook to directly appeal to all. Tell him your views!!:

Julien Frisch said...

Since you posted this comment also to another post of mine I consider it spam...

And it's nice that Buzek is on Facebook, but since it will be his press service and not he himself running the site it is crap as any politicians facebook site not run by the politician himself in the honest interest to communicate with interested citizens.