What about some actual European politics? Jean Quatremer has an interesting story. He starts off with a joint profile of Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker – and I presume I’ve now lost 90 per cent of the readers – but then it gets interesting.
So, the political parties in the European Parliament decided back in 2011 to name top candidates at the elections, and then to treat the winner’s top candidate as the Parliament’s candidate for President of the European Commission. All parties did this except for the extreme right and the odd new group with the British Tories in, who decided not to name a top candidate. The Parliament doesn’t get to nominate the president, but it does have a veto. This now starts to look a lot like the Parliament getting to choose, as the parties have agreed to veto anyone, expect the top candidate who wins the election. You could even call it democracy, of a sort.
It seems that Angela Merkel, and the intergovernmental wing of the EU more widely, doesn’t like this much. It is, after all, an effort by the elected branch to take over more power. Although everyone claims to want a more democratic EU, nobody wants this to happen at the expense of their own power. So, there is a plan afoot.
Juncker, the continental chief conservative, would be appointed as president of the Council immediately, on polling day. Therefore, the Parliament wouldn’t have the chance to appoint him to the Commission, and the agreement between the parties would no longer be valid as there would no longer be a conservative chief candidate.
This might throw the whole issue open, and leave it to the freies Spiel der Kräfte as they say in German politics. Alternatively, it might leave the Commission to the Left. Merkel would keep some sense that the intergovernmental power controlled things, keep Juncker in yet another of his countless eurojobs, and get a German at the Commission, although she would have to tolerate a Social Democrat.
Schulz, for his part, is setting up a coalition of the very broadest Left to back him in the case that he either wins the elections, which is possible, or that Merkel has Juncker lifted out by helicopter. This means the end of the weird longstanding coalition between Socialists and Conservatives in Brussels. Told you there was something interesting in here.
That said, I can’t help thinking that the whole manoeuvre with Juncker is exactly the sort of thing that millions of Europeans hate about the EU. He has been something pompous in the EU for the whole of my life and I can’t think of anything he has achieved with it except for protecting the Luxembourg tax haven. Now the prospect of him losing an election is greeted with some scheme to give him yet another eurojob in pursuit of an institutional politics spat maybe 0.01% of Europeans could describe.
Over at the Open Europe Blog, a comment on a post about the AfD says:
The issue is that nowhere in Europe the combination between desillusioned voters and business oriented policies seem to be very appealing. It looks to be one or the other. There looks to be room for a more business oriented party in most countries.
The answer is, of course, that they’re disillusioned with the business-oriented policies and the Junckerist politics.