Most of the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) we vote into office in the European elections 4 to 7 June 2009 are going to work in and with the political groups, which form the backbone of EP work.
Inside the European Parliament, the mainstream political groups run the show, so a vote for a fringe group serves little beyond promoting protest and antics.
The sensible choice is therefore to vote for a candidate or party, which is serious about the work of the European Parliament during the next five years: legislation, budget and scrutiny, as well as initiatives on the future of Europe and selected important issues of general concern.
The Treaty of Lisbon would improve the directly elected EP’s role in legislative and budgetary work (although the member states still hoard important policy areas, and we are far from a parliamentary EU level government).
In my view, there are four constructive choices (despite my critical opinion of internal EP reform).
Here are the four responsible political groups:
The centre-right Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) will probably be the largest political group in the European Parliament, even after the UK Conservatives, the Czech ODS (Topolanek) and the Polish Law and Justice Party (Kaczynskis) and a few others split to form an anti-Federalist group on the right.
One can hardly blame the EPP for fielding the only candidate to become President of the Commission.
The Socialist Group in the European Parliament (Party of European Socialists; PES) is the second largest political group in the European Parliament, a wide coalition like the EPP. It contains different centre-left shades, from ardent socialists to Labour and social democrats.
In the United Kingdom, the “duck-house scandal” threatens to cause collateral damage among honourable and hard-working Labour MEPs, which would be a pity (as long as the UK remains a member of the EU, despite a probable Conservative government around the corner).
Although a coalition like the rest of the groups, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) is perhaps the most pro-European and it has a good record on openness.
For thinking British voters, left without an attractive European home when the Tories split from the mainstream right to the hard right, the Liberal Democrats offer a sensible choice (together with the Greens and Labour).
The Greens/European Free Alliance
The Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA) are not alone in professing the virtues of sustainable development and the importance of environmental, cultural and democratic rights, but they have a certain credibility in this area, and are widely seen as a constructive force. The press for a New Green Deal.
In common with ALDE, the Greens have a good record on transparency.
You can agree or disagree with my suggestions, but shouldn’t it be self-evident that we vote the right person for the job at hand?