Saturday, September 21, 2019

ALDE Party Congress, Athens 2019 - "Resolution on Transnational lists and the lead candidate process"

One of the things about the ALDE Party's Individual Members group is that it has a keen interest in what, to national parties, is rather esoteric. There is no "nation agenda" and thus they don't have an interest to protect, so to speak. The idea of transnational lists is not a new one, indeed, Andrew Duff has been championing the idea for some years now, seeing it as he does as a way of creating a "European demos".

Resolution on Transnational lists and the lead candidate process

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party convening in Athens, Greece, on 24-26 October 2019:

Notes that:
  • more than 50% of the EU citizens eligible to vote took part at the last European elections in May 2019, marking the highest turnout in 20 years and the first time since the first direct elections in 1979 in which turnout increased. Significantly more young people with a pro-European mind-set cast their vote, according to a Eurobarometer survey across all 28 Member States. Among the main reasons identified for voting were “being in favour of the EU” (25%, +11 percentage points) and “the desire to change things by voting” (18%, +6 percentage points);
  • regardless of the encouraging turnout increase, disaffection with politics, particularly but by no means exclusively among young people, is continuing to be a trend, and is one of the driving forces behind the rise of extreme and eurosceptic forces in many parts of Europe. While politicians are increasingly viewed as distant and out of touch with voters, the topics on the European agenda continue to be far-off to the voters;
  • the political struggle following the elections in nominating the President of the European Commission, was vastly seen by the European citizens as a highlight for one of the fundamental structural challenges in European integration, as it was perceived to be an embodiment of behind-closed doors policies and lack of democratic transparency in decision-making;
  • the “Lead candidate system” for the election of the President of the European Commission should therefore be maintained, but improved through the introduction of pan-European transnational lists for the European elections in 2024. This would ensure that the vote of the pro-European voters effectively matters and that a transnational, European political sphere is put in place as a precondition for the strengthening of the European citizenship.
Points out that:
  • the European Parliament has called for the introduction of transnational lists on numerous occasions, the first time being in 1998, followed by a proposal with an ALDE Group rapporteur in 2011, and just recently in the last mandate of the European Parliament with a strong support by the ALDE Group;
  • that the ALDE Party has already acknowledged in its resolutions in 2013, 2016 and 2017 that “The elections of some members of the European Parliament via transnational lists will increase the importance of European political parties and contribute to the creation of a European public sphere”, that “the ALDE Party is well positioned to bridge the gap between national and European politics; (and) transnational coalitions have the potential to strengthen European democracy and can help to reconnect European citizens with European institutions, policies and issues;” and that lead candidate system needs to be supported and “a modified process to be developed to make the appointment of the President of the European Commission even more transparent and inclusive and to put an end to non-transparent backroom politics”;
  • transnational lists will create a common European constituency for the entire European Union, alongside the constituencies of the Member states thus fostering the European citizenship and reinforcing the topics on the EU agenda. In addition, transnational lists will not affect degressive proportionality, and would be geographically and gender balanced to reflect the plurality of the European citizens;
  • transnational lists have the potential to increase the visibility of pro-European parties and at the same time improve the balance between national interests and the common European goal.
Calls on the ALDE Party and its Member organisations, Party leaders, Commissioners, members of Governments, members of European and national parliaments to:
  • work for the creation of transnational lists for the 2024 European elections that will allow citizens to vote for candidates from across the EU;
  • make sure that European political parties are equipped with the legal frameworks for European - wide campaigns and budgeting for conducting a truly transnational campaign;
  • ensure in the future, that the candidate of the party with the most votes should not necessarily become President of the European Commission, but rather the candidate who is able to unite a majority in the European Parliament and manage to gain the citizens’ support in a transnational lists’ European electoral system;
  • reaffirm the commitment to the lead candidate process, but one that is reformed and improved to an electoral process in which the European citizens can directly participate in the appointment of the President of the European Commission;
  • insist that the possibility to vote directly for lead candidates appointed by the different European political parties as heads of the transnational lists is the best way to ensure a pan-European political sphere and strengthening the interest in the European elections and the voter turnout;
  • promote such system in the discussion of a conference and in any other high level event that may be organised by the European Union's institutions for reaching the political agreement on transnational lists by all pro-European parties.

There is a part of me that supports the notion, that believes in a European demos and sees the logic of transnational lists. And yet, there is a problem that the European political groupings are not represented across the Union, and the ability of transnational parties to campaign across twenty-eight nation states is utterly underdeveloped, with little sense that Europe-wide manifestos mean very much for now.

I also sense that there isn't a lot of agreement on the way, so this may well face quite a lot of opposition.

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