Thursday 5 February 2009

Soini owns up to joining Libertas

At least one safe member for Libertas.

Battered Declan Ganley and Libertas can take heart after relatively good news from Finland. Asked by the daily Helsingin Sanomat, Timo Soini, MP and Chairman of the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset), owns up to joining the (potentially) pan-European political party Libertas.

Chairman Soini stresses that he has joined in a personal capacity and that the True Finns are not engaged as a party.

Libertas may need some good news. First the Estonian MP Igor Gräzin announced that he was not a member, bringing Libertas down from the number of elected officials in seven member states needed for status and funding as a political party at European level, or Europarty.

Gräzin was then followed by Bulgarian MP Mincho Hristov Kuminev, who has denied signing on for Libertas, as reported by EurActiv.

Ralf Grahn


  1. The case with the Bulgarian MP seems a lot more serious than Gazin, politically. With Gazin, Libertas could claim that the Liberal group pressured him, and they've countered that they have his signiture.

    However, Hristov is far more categorical when he distances himself from Libertas - to the extent of (possible/implied) accusations of "falsified" signatures!

    It's a strong blow to Libertas' credibility, and it will probably make it even harder to attract members/supporters. In fact, Libertas' credibility has had a fair battering over the last week: claims of pro-Europeanism set against explicitly Eurosceptic membership, its claimed pan-European appeal and membership, and its trustworthiness.

    If it can't recover from this, Libertas won't be able to set forward a clear general position on Europe or claim to be trustworthy non-politician outsiders who want to change the system and bring it closer to the people.

    Ganley's finding out that a political party - even a loose political movement - is an altogether different beast than a referendum campaign. Referendums are open to influence from quick moving individuals with a good understanding of soundbites. Parties require a lot more hard work over long periods of time.

    Perhaps Ganley recognises this to an extent when he repeatedly claims to want to turn the elections into a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?

  2. Eurocentric,

    You are quite right about a political party being a different beast from a no campaign (referendum).

    After the Irish referendum, we discussed between bloggers that Ganley proposed to run a campaign for a five year legislature on a platform of protesting against the Lisbon Treaty (the result of intergovernmental negotiations and later the object of national ratification processes, with no role for the European Parliament).

    Without any real role for the European Parliament, the potential Libertas group would have had nothing to do for the coming five years.

    About half a year later, Libertas has been launched as a political party with five (?) members, on a message so general and contradictory that it seems to offer everyone something, without being committed to anything.

    So the little we have seen of a programme has no real meaning, and Ganley's statements about a strong and democratic Europe even less.

    The only real thing we can evaluate is the corps Libertas has recruited.

    As far as I can see, these founding members represent varying shades of anti-European populism and nationalism, with a tinge of xenophobia and (religious) extremism thrown in.

    The interesting thing about more extreme nationalism is that the core ideology and its manifestations are alike from country to country, but in practice they are mutually exclusive, since each nation sees itself as somehow chosen.

    People like that can perhaps share a parliamentary group (for practical reason), but politically they can probably agree only to protest and to deconstruct the EU.

    Even if Libertas would manage to surf into the EP on a wave of anti-EU sentiment, it is almost hilarious to contemplate the rise of a strong and democratic European Union through their efforts.

    If Declan Ganley was serious about a democratic European Union with real powers in the world, he would have had to look elsewhere for reformist candidates for the long haul.

  3. By the way, I still have some trouble with the words that a political party at European level, especially a professedly pan-European one, is "represented" in a member state if he or she represents a national party without any affiliation to or coalition with the Europarty.

  4. Richard Corbett has also pointed out that out.

    Libertas' website doesn't seem to carry any response or acknowledgement of recent goings on yet; that I can see from a quick look through, anyway. The news section is dominated, as always, by the obsession with countering smears rather than anything that constructive.

    It's hard to reach anything other than the conclusion that it's all just an ego trip for Ganley.

  5. Eurocentric,

    I have wondered at the lethargy concerning Libertas' web pages, especially when one news report promised publication of the members' signatures the same day (Monday?).

    I submitted my e-mail address a long time ago, rigth after the launch of Libertas in order to receive updates about their activities, but nothing on that front either.

    We live in a world where rapid reaction and frequent information is needed.


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