wallisOne of our last posts before the Christmas break was this one on the upcoming vote for the next President of the European Parliament. On 17th January, MEPs will be voting for a successor to Jerzy Buzek, the current President and a member of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). Buzek has been in the post since 2009 and could technically serve another two-and-a-half year term, but there is an agreement between the EPP and the socialist group to share the post between themselves. As such, socialist candidate Martin Schulz is widely expected to take over from Buzek this year.

We put a poll online before the Christmas break and, judging by the results, it seems that Debating Europe readers overwhelmingly support Diana Wallis‘ bid as an independent candidate for the post instead of Schulz. Not all of you, however, know much about her as a candidate. For example, Michael says in the comments:

If I had to vote for a political party that would be the liberal party and consequently in our case, as far as the person is concerned, for Diana Wallis. I don’t know anything about Mrs Wallis except that stated on this page. The same with the rest of the candidates. I believe, though, that the following question should be addressed prior to the current one and that is : ” What can we expect from the next President of the European Parliament”

We spoke with Diana Wallis today about her candidacy, and took some of your comments to her. First of all, the obvious question: “What can we expect from the next President of the European Parliament?”

I believe the next President should have a democratic mandate from all the members of the parliament from across the house, rather than being beholden to any particular political faction. That’s why I’m running as an independent, not as a liberal candidate, and why I’ve launched my candidacy with 40 signatures from MEPs from all groups and none. I want an independent Presidency that enables all members of the parliament to better fulfill their mandate. I want to open up the Bureau of the European Parliament, where I’ve been a Vice-President for 5 years. I’ve also been an MEP for 12 years. I’ve seen how it works from the inside, so I can open up our own internal decision-making process.

The other part of Michael’s comment is about not knowing much who any of the candidates are or what they stand for. We also had a comment from a user called Cyberman, arguing – “[The candidates] aren`t voted for by the public, so I couldn`t care less who wins.” Should the public care who wins?

Yes, I think they should. I think it’s very sad that we’ve come to a position where the leading post in the European Parliament appears to be decided by a small number of people. A “deal” is the word I think you used on Debating Europe. What I’m trying to do is open up this discussion much more. That’s why I’m the only candidate trying to run an external campaign as well as an internal campaign for fellow MEPs. This is indicative of the sort of Presidency I’d like to run.

It may be a small thing, but any time the president goes anywhere, time and space should be given to really engage with citizens’ groups. I also think European Parliament committees need to get out and about more, rather than just meeting with ministers in a capital city, they should be meeting much more with their counterparts in national parliaments.

Next, we had a comment from Mr.Violet, who argues that the “tradition of the closed door agreements between the two major parties” is a bad thing. He argues that these type of agreements should not become the norm, and that any agreements should be debated in “a public debate in a plenary session of the European Parliament itself.” How would you respond?

Well, I agree that this is part of the problem; we’ve almost institutionalised the deal. But it isn’t anywhere in the European Parliament’s rules! If you look at most parliaments across Europe, the speaker or the president is an independent post. What I’m trying to do is deliver a reminder that this is what the presidency should be about.

Finally, we had a comment from Oliver who wonders if you might be at a disadvantage because of your nationality. Has the recent falling-out between the UK and other EU states   made it harder for you to find support?

No, I don’t agree with it in my case. I am known as a pro-European, and if the parliament wants to show itself to be different and democratic, and to respect the track-record of somebody who has been there for five years, then a vote for me would achieve this. What better antidote to the current situation?

What do YOU think? Which of the candidates would YOU support? Do you have any questions for Wallis, or for Martin Schulz or Nirj Deva, the British Conservative MEP running as a candidate for the Conservatives – (e.g. AECR)? Do you think the debate is unimportant because the public can’t vote? Or do you think the deal to share the post of President is wrong? Let us know your thoughts in the form below, and we’ll take your comments and questions to MEPs for their reactions.

13 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Steve Crossan

    As far as I’m aware the EP has little in the way of legislative power or oversight of the EC, until this changes it matters little who the President is.

  2. avatar
    Milan Snirc

    i don’t care who’s gonna be a next president. Just we must do something with those debt problems..

  3. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    how will she deal with our Governments and their agendas that are not always in our favor, I’d like to ask her…..What will be her relationship with the Council? And the driving duo or Merkozy?

  4. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    I did not vote for Diana Wallis as Cameron did not agree to the crisis pact because it was not in the UK’s interest. Frankly I am tired of the UK’s scepticism even if she is coming out as an independent candidate. I do not see how a member coming from a country which, luckily , did not join the euro or even Schengen and making it impossible for Ireland to join Schengen, can be a president of the EP as not involved in every aspect. The EP needs to open up more with citizens, not just national parliaments and have more power to decide during crisis periods, especially, as govts never get decisions done. I want someone who is involved and pushes forward the European project. Matin Schultz committed political crime when he came to Malta to praise the opposition MEP, now leader of the oppoasition because of this-it is simply not done, so will not vote for him;unfortunatley, that leaves me with Inja

  5. avatar

    Slightly esoteric question perhaps, but shouldn’t european parliament committee meetings be open to the public to attend in person in gallery?

    I was disappointed to discover today this is not the case.

    I’m aware the meetings are live streamed on the web, but being able to attend in person seems to me important in respect of openness and transparency. It is certainly the norm for legislatures in the UK and ROI.

    I presume the President of the Parliament has powers to make changes in this area?

  6. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    Well the UK liberal democrats will do anything for position and now we have a name change, just how is that for barefaced opportunism? A UK polly as well I see, we already have the boss of the EEAS, being another from a UK’s opportunist party, in this case the new labour party. If this UK libdem oops I mean independent candidate gets the nod, does that mean that the EU will escalate its warmongering efforts on behalf of US and BoE mafia capitalism? We need strong leadership that is openly and undiplomatically hostile, to global mafia capitalism and all of their methods.

  7. avatar
    Sam Murray

    Well the comment about warmongering if absurd and its easy in a time of economic crisis to turn round and say its good for the UK to leave the EU when we all know it is the bankers fault and the UK government wont solve this issue because the tories are propped up by the bankers!

    I used to be a libdem voter but fell out with the parties agenda due to several issues (yes Im a student!). Irrespective of this I will always vote for Diana Wallis in the MEP elections. I am in her euro-constituency of Yorkshire and the Humber and am proud to have a politician like Diana representing my opinions in Europe. She has been pushing for practical and united initiatives for example highlighting a campaign for all to know the Europe wide emergency services number and the citizens initiative to engage people with an institution that was on the brink of being eclipsed by the myths around it. What ever political persuasion you have you have to admit these are practical and sensible ideas.

    The ALDE group are one of the only groups to make a stand for example against the Hungarian constitution for its lack of recognition of LGBT rights. Other europarties told them to mind their own sovereign business but it needed to be explored.

    Diana needs to stand as independent because this role needs to be without partisanship. She is very experienced in the European Parliament and is a candidate who can represent the various views of Europe and show that Europre doesn’t need to rely on back-room deals to choose a president.

  8. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    There is nothing absurd about warmongering, the EU has or is in the process of declaring war on Iran and Syria. Blockading, besieging or so called sanctions of other nations for no other reason that they will not comply with the money masters is, an act of war. I won’t even mention Libya. There is more to the EU than these motherhood statements re their bureaucrats careers, the EU, in my opinion has or is evolving into a negative foreign hostile intervention bloc. As for “representing the various views of Europe”, all that that means is maintaining the status quo, protecting what is and that is entirely opportunistic. What we need are people with vision, that are prepared to think and act outside the box, the box that the global mafia capitalist put us in. NO career politician has that ability that I have seen, we need new blood, new ideas and not more of the same failed system. For example, I would like to see someone of the calibre of a Mark Serwortka, a UK Union Secretary in the job as EU president, someone that does not parrot what the system wants them to say. I want to see alternatives and not more of the “representing the various views of Europe” as defined by our masters but courageous representatives that will speak out and not suck up. Having said all that, I am generalizing, I have never heard of any of the ‘candidates’ for the job, which to me means, that they must have been very diplomatic, up until now at least and very likely to stay that way.

  9. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    Although the following is very encouraging.

    Diana Wallis//Wallis has a particular interest in issues of direct democracy and in November 2002 she co-launched the Initiatives and Referendums Institute – Europe (IRI-Europe) report in the European Parliament. In March 2006, she hosted an IRI-Europe conference in Brussels to discuss different approaches across Europe towards the issue of direct democracy and in particular the campaign for introducing a citizens’ initiative at the European level. She is a Board Member of the Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe. This is a thinktank which has a particular interest in all issues relating to direct democracy.//

    I would like to see that.

  10. avatar
    Patrick Leneghan

    Wow and another UK pollie, a Tory this time Nirj Deva. So we have two candidates from the current UK government’s ruling parties running for Europe’s el presidenti, now that is interesting, given that the UK has never fully embraced the concept of the EU (euro etc) Could this be some sort of sweetener in process.

  11. avatar
    Josephine Cassar

    And Cameron, more important still, even if she is coming out as Liberal, she is still from a country that did not join the euro, the Schengen and one that is out of the new treaty by using the veto: could have stopped the rest.Schultz does not deserve to be President as he meddled in our affairs when choice of new opposition leader was on, so unethical. Does not leave us choice, wonder how Deva would do

  12. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    Ms Wallis’s nationality should not affect her candidacy for President of the European Parliament for obvious reasons. I have watched the debate online and I would still vote for Ms Wallis although I cannot make any decision for Mr Schulz because I can’t understand German! There was no simultaneous translation from where I was watching the debate but even if there was, I would still have almost the same question marks as I believe that translation does not give a full picture of the speaker. I do respect Mr Deva’s views but I believe that the strong points of Ms Wallis running independently this campaign and her belief that European Citizen should get more involved with European Parliament’s works, should give her a step ahead.
    What I would ask all of the candidates is about the Euro Crisis. Can they help in some way, if elected? Do they think that the number of the MEPs in the European Parliament as well as the increasing spending amount for Parliament’s issues is too big?

  13. avatar
    Alex Macfie

    @Patrick: The fact that two of the candidates for President of the EP are from the UK’s ruling parties shows only that agreements between parties in a country’s domestic political arena have no significance in this institution. Conservative and Lib Dem MEPs made it clear from the formation of the Coalition that they do not consider themselves bound by it, as this article from May 2010 shows:
    Chris Davies MEP has called the European Parliament a “Coalition-free Zone”

    For this reason, @Josephine, it does not make sense to oppose Diana Wallis’ EP Presidency candidacy on the basis any policy of the national government which her party happens to be a part of. As a member of a separate institution to the UK parliament and UK government, she can say what she likes about the UK government. Indeed an article on her website clearly shows that she does NOT support Cameron’s EU policy or the UK veto

    If you oppose Diana Wallis as President of the European Parliament, you should do so on the basis of *her* policies and how you expect *her* as an individual and as a European Liberal to perform in the job. Not on the basis of her nationality per se, and certainly not on the basis of her country’s government.

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