May 3, 2013
Vital in any campaign, a political party cannot exist without its activists. It is necessary that the majority of the party members (the activists) understand the importance of each campaign – whether the elections are local, regional, national or European. They want to and need to be involved, as well as to be treated with respect. Backroom politics are important, however political competition in open elections are the salt and pepper to any debate.
I remember the launch of the candidates for the European elections in 2009, when most of the activists were hardly able to set-up events for 2-3 months, the period before the election date of June 7, 2009. First, one must understand the importance of European confrontations by activists, which could convince others that involvement in such matters is relevant to them.
The fact that during the campaign there was no candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission from European Left discouraged voters who were already inclined to stay home on Election Day even more! We need stronger European leaders (both politically and morally) to (re-)build credibility and coherence.
After the June elections in 2009 it was clear that the European Union needed to adapt the electoral system for the European Parliament. Inspired by the American model, in which a party supports their main candidate kind for 2-3 years, we suggested a similar mechanism to establish a new and improved selection and promotion procedure for leaders at European level through national campaigns, about 3 years before the European Parliament elections.
Together with colleagues from PSD Brussels, we launched a series of bilateral meetings with the Socialists and Democrats in Brussels from July 2009. I listened to the opinions and information vis-à-vis colleagues given from their (national) view and saw that existing potential European leaders were beginning to understand the power of such a mechanism for the European Left.
“Manifesto 2014 for a United European Left” was proposed by PSD Brussels for Europe’s citizens. The document comprised the results of the analyses and debates, which were line with discussions conducted during the whole period after the European elections in June 2009 by the leading progressive political organizations in Brussels. The manifesto was first presented on 10 September 2009.
In the autumn of that year, the idea has been presented to Martin Schulz, at that time Chairman of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. At the end of the meeting he highlighted that “the European Union is more than the simple sum of the 27 Member States and national leaders must understand this.”
In 2010 we proposed a possible ‘primary election’ calendar, and by the end of the year European socialists already decided to implement the proposed primary elections in order to nominate their candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission in 2014.
In September 2012 Martin Schulz gave a successful speech at the plenary of the Congress of European Socialists. Even if Martin still has quite some months in office as President of the European Parliament, he is considered the candidate to win the “European primaries” for the Socialists and would then be proposed as President of the European Commission in 2014. But only if the Socialists win the most MEP seats during the European elections.