Libertas misses deadline to register German candidates
JAMIE SMYTH in Brussels
LIBERTAS HAS missed the deadline for registering candidates to stand in the European elections in Germany in a major blow to the organisation’s pan-European ambitions. It is also encountering significant problems in meeting the stringent registration requirements laid out in electoral laws in such countries as Romania and Italy.
“We’ve run up against some bureaucracy in Germany where we are still gathering the 4,000 signatures and other information required by the electoral commission. But we do still intend to register and compete in the European elections in that country. We will talk to the bureaucracy and see how we can work with them,” said a Libertas spokeswoman.
But a spokeswoman for the federal office of elections in Germany told The Irish Times last night the deadline passed at 6pm on March 31st and any party that had not registered its information by that time was not eligible to take part in the June elections.
“Every party that has filed an application by the deadline is on the list of 38 parties in our press release. It is not possible to file a late application,” said a German election official.
Libertas Partei Deutschland was launched in Berlin last month by Libertas founder Declan Ganley, who has targeted Germany as a key battleground for his organisation. “Germany is perhaps the most important keystone of European democracy . . . It is here in the end what will decide whether or not we enter into a post-democratic Europe,” he told journalists at the Berlin launch, where he pledged to field candidates in the elections.
Libertas had hoped to launch candidates in all 27 EU states but is encountering problems in complying with the plethora of different registration requirements .
“There are rules in many states designed to protect incumbents and not allow new parties to emerge,” said a Libertas spokesman. He noted in Romania a party needs 200,000 signatures to register. In Italy 6,000 are needed in each constituency.
Libertas is also being targeted by rival parties, for example in Britain a friend of UKIP leader Nigel Farage registered the name Libertas International with the British electoral commission. This has forced Mr Ganley’s Libertas to register to compete in the European elections in June in Britain under the name New Dawn for Europe: Libertas.eu.
Libertas is proving more successful in fielding candidates in the Czech Republic, where it is expected to announce today it is fielding 25 candidates in the elections. The party list will be headed by two Czech MPs, who last week defected from the Civic Democrats and supported a no-confidence vote that toppled the government.
On Poliics.ie the site owned by former Riavda Networks employee and current Libertas employee David Cochrane certain posters could not contain their glee at Ganley's biggest gaffe to date. Deutschland says Libertas Nein Danke as Libertas fail in Germany bid for EU
Under the rules for registering candidates on a Bundesland (state) list, a party needs to get 1 in 1,000 certified signatures from voters who were eligible to vote in the last European Parliament elections, up to a maximum of 2,000 certified signatures in any one state.
Let's say a state has 1,000,000 voters registered in 2009 who were also eligible to vote in the 2004 European Parliament elections.
In that case, a party would need to get the signatures of at least 1,000 eligible voters in that state.
Some states have much bigger populations than others. For example, Nord Rhine - Westphalia has a population of 18,000,000.
Let's say that about two-thirds of the population are eligible voters. That would mean the eligible voter population is 12,000,000.
This means that a party would need to get 12,000 signatures from Nord Rhine-Westphalia to meet the 1 in 1,000 rule. However, there's an upper limit of 2,000 signatures needed to run a list of candidates in Nord Rhine-Westphalia because of the maximum of 2,000 rule.
At the other end of the scale, you've got Bremen with a total population of about 660,000 people.
If the same assumption is made, that two-thirds of the population are eligible voters, then there are about 440,000 elligible voters. Collecting the signatures of 1 in 1,000 eligible voters in Bremen would mean collecting 440 signatures.
The deadline for registering candidates on a state list is 66 days before the European elections (7 June 2009 in Germany). This means that parties have until 2nd April 2009 to collect signatures from at least 1 in 1,000 eligible voters in each state that they want to run candidates in.
The more states that a party can run candidates in, the more likely they are to cross the 5% of national votes threshold required to have MEPs elected.
Based on the turnout at the last European elections in Germany, a party would need at least over 1,330,000 votes to cross the 5% threshold.
Even if you make the assumption that the turnout will be significantly lower this time out, a party would still need roughly 1,100,000 votes to cross the 5% threshold.
In effect, to have a realistic chance of getting this number of votes, a party that isn't running a national list would have to run lists in a large number of states with small to medium populations or in a smaller number of states with larger populations.
We know from reports that Libertas Partei Deutschland had collected at least 3,500 certified signatures by 31 March.
It's possible that these signatures are concentrated heavily in one state, say Nord Rhine-Westphalia.
If Libertas get enough certified signatures within one or more states by the deadline of 6pm German time tonight, then they'd be able to run a list of candidates in those states.
The states they run candidates in would have to have large enough populations to give them a chance of passing the 5% threshold.
However, this means they'll have to concentrate on getting signatures in the larger states, although that makes it harder to get the number of signatures required.
In addition, of course, these signatures have to be collected in states which have large enough populations to make it worthwhile running a list of candidates.
There's no point in getting 1 in 1,000 signatures from Bremen with its tiny population.
Getting signatures from Nord Rhine-Westphalia (2,000 required) would be worthwhile since its got a population of about 18,000,000 or about 22% of the German population (and presumably electorate).
Assuming that the 3,500 certified signatures collected by Libertas are spread evenly across each state in proportion, then about 22% of these signatures will have come from Nord Rhine-Westphalia.
22% of 3,500 is 770, leaving Libertas with about 1,230 signatures to collect and send to the Nord Rhine-Westphalia electoral office before 6pm this evening.
There are two other states where a party would have to collect at least 2,000 signatures: Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
Bavaria has about 15% of the total German population. 15% of 3,500 is 525, leaving Libertas with 1,475 signatures to collect in Bavaria, assuming again that the 3,500 signatures came from each state in proportion.
In all other states the 1 in 1,000 signatures a party has to collect to be able to run a list of candidates would be less than 2,000 in total.
It's possible that Libertas will get the necessary 1 in 1,000 signatures (or 2,000 signatures in the larger states) in one or more states by the deadline this evening.
They'll have to have made a major effort to collect signatures on 1st April and 2nd April in the right amounts in the right states, and have them returned to the appropriate state election offices before 6pm this evening. here