Major reshuffling in leadership of medium and small groups
By Célia Sampol | Thursday 07 May 2009
Several changes are in store for the leadership of the other political groups.
First, Ireland’s Brian Crowley will step down from the UEN co-chairmanship because his party, the centre-right Fianna Fáil, has just joined the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR). So from June, he will sit in the ALDE, which is far more pro-European than the UEN. The other Co-Chair, Italian-born Cristiana Muscardini, is also expected to leave because her party, the National Alliance, will join the EPP-ED after its recent merger with Forza Italia. The two will nevertheless be abandoning a sinking ship. As a result of the new rules on the formation of political groups (see separate article), the UEN is doomed to disappear unless it can find reinforcements. Crowley and Muscardini will lose the privileged position that gives them a seat in the Conference of Presidents.
For the Greens-EFA, the very popular duo at work since 2002, Monica Frassoni (Italy) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (France-Germany), may come to an end. Cohn-Bendit is likely to be elected (he heads the list in Ile-de-France) but has doubts about wanting to continue to lead the group. He would rather seek the chair of the Committee on Culture. Frassoni’s situation is difficult, since new rules in Italy set a 4% minimum to be elected. Her Green Party, even allied with other left-of-centre parties, is projected to reach barely 2%. She cannot stand for election in Belgium, as she did in 1999, because all the slots are taken. An inside source says that if the team is not re-elected, the Greens are nevertheless expected to keep the principle of two co-chairs. One could be German MEP Rebecca Harms, possibly with a French national because the Europe-Ecologie list is expected to score well.
FRANCIS WURTZ ON WAY OUT
The EUL-NGL will lose its Chairman, Francis Wurtz (France), who has been a member of the EP since the first direct elections in 1979. He has announced he will not stand for re-election. Wurtz could be replaced by a German, since Die Linke looks set to win a number of seats. Lothar Bisky, co-chair of Die Linke and head of the European Left Party, is a possibility. Others suggest a French national, for example Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has just set up the Left Party.
The Independence-Democracy Group could well cease to exist in June due to the new rules on group formation. Danish MEP Hanne Dahl (June Movement) and Britain’s Nigel Farage (UKIP) would lose their co-chairmanship. Lastly, if the Eurosceptic group being launched by the British Conservatives becomes a reality, it could be headed by the Tories’ current leader in the EP, Timothy Kirkhope.