By Richard Laming
Published in EUobserver, 17 January 2007
Two parallel developments in the European Parliament this month reveal much about the state of European democracy.
First of all, there is the “Fair Chair” campaign of Jens Peter Bonde MEP. He ran for the post of president of the European Parliament on a platform of fairness for all political groups. He complained that the most influential posts and the speaking time were being carved up between the two biggest groups, and that this was unfair on the rest. (He comes from a smaller group himself.)
A particular demand of his was that the president of the Parliament should be above party politics rather than representing a particular political group. Of course, any candidate for president will be likely to come from a group to start with, but if elected should resign from that group and act in a neutral manner instead. The management of business in the European Parliament should not be a place for party political fights and seeking party political advantage.
The second development was the creation of a far right group, Identity, Tradition andSovereignty (ITS), with the arrival of Romanian and Bulgarian MEPs in Strasbourg and Brussels. Prior to the latest accession, the far right was too small to form a group of its own: it needed 19 MEPs from five different countries. Now, it is big enough to establish a group,with all the expectations of posts and speaking time that follow.
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