Monday, February 02, 2009
Libertas set to emerge as political party as candidates unveiled
A new pan-EU political party, Libertas, is due to be born today, but it looks quite similar to some other parties that also qualify for EU funding.
The president, 14 vice-presidents and six questors of the European Parliament are expected to rubber stamp Libertas’ membership application at a meeting in Strasbourg later today.
It will allow the organisation conceived by Declan Ganley to collect €200,000 from EU funds immediately. If, as he hopes, he wins more members during the European elections in June, that amount will increase.
But if all goes as expected today, Libertas will join the ranks of 10 other pan European political groups registered and receiving funding from the parliament.
The idea of encouraging such parties is to foster political action that is not limited by national borders but has a Europe-wide dimension, hence the requirement for parties to have members elected to the EP or to regional or national bodies in at least seven countries.
Every approved party is eligible for a basic €100,000 and the rest of the money depends on the number of MEPs linked to the party. In Libertas’s case, they start off with three MEPs — two French and one Greek.
The rest are one from the British House of Lords, three from national parliaments — Estonia, Finland and Bulgaria — and one from a Polish regional government.
The man behind the scenes, instrumental in the birth of Libertas, is the Danish euro sceptic Jens Peter Bonde who resigned from the parliament two years ago. He knows the workings of the EP inside out and has been responsible for two European parties, the EUD — European Democratic Party — and its sister Alliance for a Europe of Democracies (AIDE).
They both receive funding from the EP and now he can add a third to his family with Libertas.
To get funding, members must be exclusive to parties and Libertas has been lucky enough to get members who were once in Mr Bonde’s parties.
The funding from the EP can be spent on promoting themselves throughout the EU thought not on funding national candidates or referenda. And these pan-European parties can spin off into political groups in the parliament where they qualify for additional money. For instance EUD and AIDE members are to be found in the independence/democracy group.
The composition of the Libertas party looks equally diverse though they share many of the attributes of the other two parties — they tend to be nationalistic, euro sceptic and in some cases anti-abortion. So far they have nobody from the island of Ireland unlike their sister organisations.
Members of the Libertas political party, according to their membership application to the parliament are:
* Lord Alton of Liverpool, a former teacher and son of an Irish speaking mother from the west of Ireland who is very active in anti- abortion circles and was author of a chain letter distributed by independent MEP Kathy Sinnott.
* Viscount Philippe le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon, MEP and leader of the Catholic conservative party, Mouvement pour la France noted for his anti-Islamist views and his wish to restore the franc.
* Paul Marie Couteaux, MEP who would like to see France distancing itself from the union.
* Georgios Georgiou, 72, Greek MEP, a member of the People’s Orthodox Rally, that has moved recently from being anti-semitic to advocating gay rights.
* Timo Soini, of the True Finns Party that has five seats in the Finnish Parliament and been accused of xenophobia, which he denies as a devoted Catholic.
* Igor Grazin a member of the Estonian parliament for the eurosceptic Estonian Reform Party, was a member of the last USSR Congress of People’s Deputies.
* Mincho Kuminev, one of 20 independent members of the Bulgarian parliament elected in mid 2005.
* Cyprian Gutkowski, a number of the regional assembly of Mazovia, Poland. A supporter of MEP Maciej Giertych, 72, of the League of Polish Families who was censured in the EP for his booklet suggesting the Jews were biologically different