A new majority in the European Parliament after the European elections is possible – and necessary.
The situation in 2009 is quite different from 2004, and there are many reasons for change:
One, the new Parliament will have a much more decisive role in the top post in the EU: the President of the Commission. It is true the Parliament won’t nominate, but it will accept or reject. And many are in the mood to reject Barroso. I have already made it clear that the PES does not support him. It is the most important post that the Parliament will determine – much more so than the largely diplomatic role of Parliament President.
Two, the crisis – and the political response to the crisis – has created a much wider and deeper gulf between progressives and conservatives. Our answer to the crisis is very different from the lack of action from the conservatives.
Three, we simply need a new leadership and better management of the crisis. We need someone who can deliver a serious response to the crisis – with a new employment policy and a strategic plan of investments in green growth. We need a clear line for Europe which can unite member states to act in common.
In this case, one, two and three add up to much more than six. The majority in the Parliament will determine the President of the Commission when the incumbent, the candidate of the European conservatives’ party, has been found lacking on the biggest issue for many years to so seriously divide conservatives from progressives. In 2004 Barroso was a compromise candidate, in 2009 he is a compromised candidate.
For all these reasons the issue of a new majority is firmly on the table.
It is too early to discuss the possible composition of a new majority, or new majorities. The voters must have their say first – we need to see how the numbers stack up after the elections. We also need to see who leaves the conservative group along with the British and Czech conservatives, and if others in addition to the Italian Democrats come into our tent.
It is also an issue that needs to be discussed in more detail by the PES and our MEPs.
It’s not just me that thinks a new majority is possible. Why else would the conservative President of the Parliament want to put the new Commission President to the vote as early as July? Despite their repeated – and arrogant – claims that they will remain the largest group in the Parliament, the European conservatives are all too aware that even if they were the largest group (and that’s far from certain) – it does not guarantee them the majority they need.