Cameron’s fight to knock out Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Luxemburg PM and the European People’s Party’s candidate for the job of the presidency of the European Commission, is getting nastier.
The British PM’s newest argument is that ‘Juncker was nowhere on the ballot’. In an op-ed published today in a number of European newspapers (i.a. Le Monde, The Irish Times and the Süddeutsche Zeitung) Cameron ‘warns’ the Europeans that we ‘should look for the best possible candidate’. Read: Anyone but Juncker.
Angela Merkel supports Juncker, but some European Leaders, like the Swedish PM Reinfeldt and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte more or less agree with the UK. They suddenly realize that the whole ‘Spitzenkandidat’ thing was not such a good idea. Cameron even describes it as ‘nonsense’. Why they didn’t tell this to their voters before the elections is a riddle. What they are really afraid of, is the fact that the European Parliament will get more power. They also fear that voting directly for the EC’s president might set a precedent for the next elections in 2019, thus making the European Union more democratic.
[Update 14.06.2014] According to the French daily Le Monde, the current president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, has advised the European government leaders to back Juncker’s candidacy, isolating David Cameron even more.
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Whether Juncker was on the ballot or not is not quite as important as Mr. Cameron claims. As a government leader, he is a member of the very influential but opaque European Council. This institution has gained a lot of power since the euro crisis started in 2008. All their decisions are being taken behind closed doors. When the leaders dine together many things are on the menu, except for a dish called transparency. What’s for sure is that during these summits, Cameron directly decides on aspects of the lives of the 508 million EU-citizens. Yet, just like Juncker, he was never on any European ballot either. He wasn’t even on English ballots, except for the one in the constituency of Witney, with 78220 registered voters.
In the most recent legislative elections in Luxemburg, in 2013, Juncker received 55968 votes, Cameron on the other hand only seduced 33973 voters (58.8%) in Witney during the last general elections in the UK (2010). Maybe it’s comparing apples and oranges, but if popular votes are to be an argument, Juncker has more democratic legitimacy than David Cameron. Being or not being on a ballot doesn’t really qualify or disqualify you as a political leader. All depends on a country’s or an institution’s political system and traditions. Whether this is a good thing or not, I’ll leave that for another debate. In this specific case, however, Cameron behaves like a virgin who realizes the morning after his wedding night that he doesn’t like the pimples on his bride’s nose. Instead of shouting at her, maybe the unhappy groom should show some character and annul the wedding all together.