So, hot on the heels of its success getting a “No” in the Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum, Libertas has today relaunched as a pan-European political party. Look – it’s got a shiny new website and Twitter, Facebook and Flickr accounts and everything!
“If people want a strong and healthy Europe that is democratic and answerable to them, they should vote for a Libertas candidate”
All very well and good. Democracy, eh? Yep – I could go for that. Strength? Health? All sounds good. Because they’re platitudinous truisms. The same rubbish could be spouted by any and all parties.
So, what about the details of the new party’s policies and attitudes? What sort of people will be standing as candidates?
“A detailed policy document will be published in the coming months, and candidates’ names will be unveiled over a similar time frame.”
Ah… So, erm… This is a party with no policies and no candidates. Now seems a good time to repeat my comments about Libertas to a wider audience:
1) We don’t yet know how many candidates (if any) Libertas will be running, or where
2) We don’t know what their campaign is going to focus on
3) We don’t know what impact (if any) the shift from Republican to Democrat will have on them considering the allegations of their close ties to the current US administration
A genuinely pan-European pro-reform (but not anti-EU) political party could be exactly what’s needed. But there remain far too many unknowns about both Ganley and his organisation to be able to make any sensible judgements about it just yet. What is known of Ganley and his business dealings hardly makes me overly optimistic that his motives are entirely altruistic.
Having said that, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Libertas’ pro-democracy, pro-reform, pro-integration rhetoric is actually belief (the rumoured involvement of Jens-Peter Bonde is a promising sign, for example) – though I remain sceptical about the group’s motives, largely due to a combination of the secrecy that still surrounds its funding, the fact that its arguments against the Lisbon Treaty in the Irish referendum campaign largely consisted of nationalistic ones about Ireland losing influence, and thanks to most other “pro-reform” organisations in the past having turned out instead to be anti-EU. A reformist party I could get behind. Another anti-EU one in disguise? No thanks.
The clincher will be where Libertas decides to run. If it avoids putting candidates up against existing anti-EU/eurosceptic parties like UKIP or Denmark’s June Movement, that’ll be a good indication that the “reform” rhetoric is just fluff. If it DOES run against anti-EU parties, expect their share of the vote to go down. Which could, short-term, reduce the number of eurosceptics in the European Parliament – but which would, longer-term, simply lead to the current resentment continuing to grow, so that by the NEXT EP elections we might be ready for some serious changes.
I may be being unfair. The new party’s Facts page does, after all, tick most of my boxes:
“Libertas is not a Eurosceptic organisation… Our vision is of a united Europe, which recognises and respects the right of citizens and nations to choose their own destinies, but which encourages all Europeans to reach across the borders of nationality, language, and culture to participate in and invigorate a Union which equips us to meet the challenges of this next phase of European History.”
I hope I’m being unfair in doubting them. If Libertas is what it professes to be, it could be just the medicine that the EU needs to fix the ongoing stagnation and rot. But when it comes to EU reform organisations, far too many have turned out to be little more than anti-EU talking shops in disguise for me to accept this as face value just yet.