Thursday, 9 April 2009

And the new President of the European Parliament is … or how a news was created

The Bulgarian elections for European Parliament will be held on 7th June - now the date is officially set. Bulgaria will elect 17 MEPs, one down from the 2007 mid-term elections. The electoral system is proportional with a barrier set at the so-called electoral quota which is 100%/17 (number of mandates)= 5,88% of the votes. Judging by the previous elections when just under 2 mln. people exercised their right to vote that would mean a party would need around 120, 000 votes to pass the threshold and get an MEP candidate elected.

120, 000 in a country of 7.5 mln. is a lot and it is not. It is a lot because people don’t show big interest in European elections and it is not because a good campaign with popular candidates can raise the public support needed. After all, 120, 000 is the size of an average neighbourhood in the capital Sofia ( 2 mln. inhabitants).

Probably led by similar considerations current Bulgarian MEPs and candidates are quite active in public discussions these days. Of course, the present representatives are keen on keeping their seat and the lower number of mandates for distribution will just make that task harder.

The discussion I visited this week was organized by the New Bulgarian University. The participants included the current MEPs Nickolay Mladenov (GERB) and Iliana Iotova (BSP) as well as MEP candidates Plamen Tsvetkov and Youseff Dakak (DSB), Atanas Shterev and Plamen Panayotov (BND). The discussion went in the usual constructive tone with the candidates trying to put focus on European, rather than national issues. One of the hot issues appeared to be the proposed ban on the import of seal products in the EU. The public as well as some of the candidates appeared to be quite informed on the topic and agreed on the need of such a ban.

As a blogger I felt I needed to ask a few questions that will spark a discussion. What personally concerned me (as a EU voter) was the de-facto permanent coalition between the two largest EP factions - EPP and PES which allows them to share the post of President and the vast share of commission seats in Parliament. So I asked the candidates how would they motivate me to vote for either of these if my vote would practically not make a difference.

Since the PES representative Mrs. Iotova had already left the discussion at that point I got an answer from the EPP group member Mr. Mladenov. He pointed the fact that EPP has elected the Parliament President with the help of the liberals in the past and promised that the new president will be an EPP representative and also … Polish. It remained unclear who will hold the presidency during the second 2,5 year term of the next parliament (probably again a PES representative) but at least a news was announced. The list of current Polish MEPs is here so pick your favorite. Just keep in mind he/she should be from the EPP ;)


Jerzy Buzek - MEP from Civic Platform (member of the EPP), ex-prime minister of Poland, elected to the EP with the highest number of votes in the country.

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