Declan Ganley seems to be planning to field more than 400 candidates in the June 2009 European elections. He is starting to raise £75 million from online donations to run candidates for the European Parliament throughout the European Union.
See the Telegraph article by Tim Shipman “Irish ‘No’ vote architect plans Europe-wide ‘referendum’ on Lisbon Treaty” (20 July 2008):
According to the article, the message will be to give people a referendum with a chance to say ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty. Ganley hopes to win more than 80 seats in the European Parliament, creating a Europe-wide voting bloc with a strong mandate to block passage of the treaty.
At this point in time, Shipman’s interview seems to be closest thing we have to a prospectus for the initial public offering of the Libertas European level party.
Let us take a closer look at what we can surmise of the offer from the viewpoint of potential donors, candidates and voters.
Given my modest circumstances, 75 million British pounds looks like a hefty investment even for a good cause.
The only message of the Libertas party seems to be an opportunity to vote ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty.
Consequently, 75 million pounds could lead to a protest vote, just possibly massive enough to save the Nice Treaty for the foreseeable future. A lot of money to remain stuck where we already are.
Given the simplicity of the message, the already proven capacity to market forceful simplifications in one test market and popular disillusionment with the EU project, we cannot exclude the possibility of some electoral success.
We could end up with a number of anti-Lisbon MEPs in the next European Parliament, possibly enough toform a new parliamentary group (according to the new rules).
Before the five year mandate comes to a close, at least part of the voters would have realised that the European Parliament has no voice in treaty change. Even if this can be seen as undemocratic, amending the EU treaties is in the hands of the member states’ governments and ultimately parliaments. The European Parliament is only consulted on calling an intergovernmental conference.
Even if a successful electoral campaign could be launched on a protest against the Lisbon Treaty, the Europarliamentarians are in fact elected to act as co-legislators for five years. What would the Libertas MEPs do during their mandate?
There is no programme, as far as we know, and if the campaign is solely about protesting against the Lisbon Treaty, we cannot be sure that there is going to be any platform of substance before the elections.
Still, as elected representatives, Libertas’ MEPs would be supposed to vote on all ‘Community pillar’ questions within the European Parliament’s powers.
Donors would not know what they invest in.
Candidates would be unaware of what they stake their reputation on.
Voters would be clueless as to the future policies beyond the initial protest.
How about this as a return on investment?
Democracy, legitimacy and accountability are key demands on any political group, especially one campaigning on these issues.
More – much more – is needed if Libertas wants to become a credible EU level political party.