European Parliament campaign gets tough

June 3, 2009

By Caroline Linton

The gloves are off in the run-up to this week’s European Parliament election

The Party of European Socialists (PES) has published a list of 11 rival candidates it describes as terrible and invites readers to complete the list by adding a 12th candidate of his or her choice. The PES’ centre-right rivals, the European People’s Party (EPP), has hit back by calling it “cheap populism”.

The list is headed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and includes Jaime Mayor Oreja, a Spanish member of the European Parliament, and British National Party candidate Nick Griffin. Griffin, Igor Gräzin of the Estonia Reform Party and Derk-Jan Eppink of the Belgian Lijst Dedecker are the only three representing groups that are not part of the EPP.

PES officials said the candidates on the list would not contribute anything positive to parliament. In the case of Berlusconi, the PES’ complaint is that he has no intention of sitting in any of Italy’s five electoral regions. It said sed Oreja had not spoken in the parliament since November 2007 and had failed to condemn the authoritarian rule of General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1936 until 1975. 

It rejected statements by Eppink about what he called the the difficulty of being “a white, heterosexual Dutchman with a good job and an expensive car” in the Belgian region of Flanders. It criticised Brice Hortefeux, France’s social affairs and employment minister, for saying illegal immigrants were neither “honest” nor “clean”. Griffin has been condemned for denying the Holocaust.

EPP President Wilfried Martens issued a statement condemning the publication of the list and said it was a new low for the PES leadership.

“To call a number of distinguished EPP candidates ‘terrible’ as the PES did today or calling our millions of supporters across Europe ‘barbarians’ as the President of the Socialist International did last week, is truly regrettable,” Martens said. “I am convinced that the European citizens will punish the populism of the Socialists at the polls.”

The PES also suggested the EPP was such a broad alliance that voters who back a party in their home country could be backing a party in another country with policies and candidates he or she did not approve of.

Even so, the PES brings together various ideologies as well, with members ranging from the British Labour Party to the Social Democratic Party in Germany.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

M Gonzi

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Some how I doubt the British Labour Party will be contributing anything to PES’s efforts this time.

Posted by Peter H | Report as abusive

The rise of the far right in the European elections of this week is one of the most menacing developments in contemporary European history. The far right opposes immigrant and minority rights and campaigns openly on a platform of xenophobia and intolerance. One hopes more and more Europeans not only reject the values espoused by the far right, but also take the initiative to participate in the political process so as to counter its rise.

Posted by SAS | Report as abusive

Oh wowIdiots.. Franco? Have the left condemned the crimes committed in the name of communism?Neither the left or Far Right is good .. communism is in the same basket as Nazism.(To the left) don’t run away, away from it, don’t try and change the name. You screwed up, in its name, take responsibility.We have condemned Nazism. And the EPP (who I’m not a big fan of necessarily) brought out a resolution condemning totalitarianism (aka socialism aka communism aka stalinism).Where is the left? Much like the only thing they can do is go around with flaps over their eyes beating the drums à la Vietnam, which was good [whereas Iraq wasn’t] there it was anything against communism) and .. where were they when Russia invaded Chechnya? Or when the USSR took pieces of Finland?The only thing they can do is purport class warfare (extremism is not cool) or the redistribution of wealth. oh wow. Now when we need JOBS and work.Signed: centrist

Posted by Timber Wolf | Report as abusive

PS the peace movement was set up by the left..and nothing on the left, be it an economic model or not, is good. The only instance when would be is being left for the people and right when it comes to business..and foreign policy (look at Carter in the U.S. and Europe today). But for this we can think of forming new parties ..Secular parties taking to social liberalism (in the econ sense, otherwise be socially/culturally moderate acknowledging and respecting tradition, and history) and not its classical counterpart, not movements, not feminism (militancy. Women’s rights are human rights. When this doesn’t suffice .. one begins to wonder. Symbolic value) or LGBT (tho they have to be taken into consideration, the rights of the minority must be protected, they cannot be ridden roughshod over, but neither can we let a vexed majority impose their will over all) or anything else ..I’m sorry to say .. what the PES purports the EPP to have said is true. I’m not going to say anything about the Holocaust and Berlusconi is a joke .. and I am calling for totalitarianism to be tried by all .. but they are absolutely right about ‘straight Dutchmen’ or illegal (note – illegal) immigrants.Have to respect the customs of the host country this includes the legal system. If you want to come and work, good. Great. Contribute to society. If however it is just to deal drugs..well of course we will deport you then.This, btw, is a bit the same with the headscarf. Our customs is religion in the Middle East. That is the problem. There needs to be separation of church and state. Because as long as laws have religious influence ..What do you think will happen if you go wanting to build a church in Saudi Arabia? You will get killed ..This has reminded me how populism .. doesn’t really work. And how economic populism also is unviable. Socialism is dead. Capitalism, as purported by conservatives, is also dying. Laissez faire is too simplistic for todays standards.I’m conservative but not A conservative .. so ..

Posted by Timber Wolf | Report as abusive