Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Seven new parties set to launch in the UK

There will be up to seven new political parties campaigning for your votes by 2014. But these new parties won't be short-lived 'here today, gone tomorrow' affairs. They will be guaranteed 25 seats in the European Parliament elections. That is the proposal being put forward by a group of MEPs and apparently backed by all the main parties.

In what will surely dismay all but the hardiest pro-Europe campaigners, the EU could change the rules so that 25 MEPs will be elected from what is described as a 'pan European constituency'. In other words, these people will be elected by every voter in each of the 27 countries in the EU. We will still also elect MEPs from the regional constituencies we have at the moment.

The candidates for these 25 new seats will be standing under the label of the broad groupings that sit in the European Parliament. Although we elect Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, UKIP etc members to the European Parliament, when they take their seats they sit under broad groupings with like-minded people from other countries. So a Conservative becomes a member of the 'European Conservatives and Reformists' group, a Labour MEP becomes a member of the 'Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats' and a Lib Dem becomes a member of the 'Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe'. All extremely catchy names which will trip off the tongue easily.

Altogether there are seven such groupings in the European Parliament and each would stand candidates so long as the list of 25 represents at least nine different countries.

And so it will be these groupings which will be campaigning (or not) for your vote come the 2014 European elections. As well as the already humungous ballot paper for the local vote, electors will be given a second ballot paper and asked to choose between the Euro-pudding* groupings.

I cannot imagine how these groupings will campaign. The parties will be doing all they can to get their own votes. It is likely to defeat their purposes if they are asking electors to vote for two different names on two different ballot papers.

And yet... even then I have over-simplified things. Because the Liberal Democrats may sit as part of the 'Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe', but the Euro-pudding party to which we belong is the 'European Liberals, Democrats and Reformers (ELDR)'.

I can imagine the fun on the doorstep:

"Hello, I'd like you to vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament elections. But I'd also like you to vote for the European Liberals, Democrats and Reformers who will sit in the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe."

Because that will work.

I agree with the founding principles of the EU but it really does itself no favours if it proceeds with decisions like this.

* with apologies to Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

UPDATE - the original version of this post appeared to read as though this is definitely happening. Now corrected. Apologies for heart attacks caused.


Madder do ee said...

There is a problem that people use Euro elections to pass judgement on their national governments.

With EU parties on the ballot paper voters might start thinking at a more European level.

Mark Pack said...

Interesting news. Doesn't this require a treaty change (and in turn unanimity from member state governments) before it can come into force?

johngill789 said...

Out of sheer curiosity do you have a web link to where you found this i.e. press release or even the European legislation itself?

Alex Folkes said...

Apols for the slightly definitive writing of my original post (now corrected).
It's a proposal from the European Parliament which apparently has the backing of the three main groups. It would, of course, require the unanimous consent of the states - and I can't see this happening. For more information, check out Andrew Duff's website and download 'EU Electoral Reform pamphlet' -

johngill789 said...

@Alex. Thanks for the links - very informative.