So, Declan Ganley has extended his Irish-based anti-Lisbon Treaty NGO-cum-lobby group Libertas
into an EU-wide political movement Libertas.eu
intent on fighting next year’s euro-elections in a host of EU states including, interestingly for me, the Czech Republic.
The only countries where Libertas.eu is not recruiting ‘high calibre candidates’ are France, and Denmark, – presumably as they are already well equipped with purpose-made eurosceptic parties and movements, such as the June Movement of veteran campaigner Jens Peter Bonde – and Ireland, where Mr Ganley’s Libertas organization is already well advanced in plans to field a list. Apart from the links for Estonia, Sweden and Poland all the recruitment ad are in English, suggesting that there is perhaps not
a well organized network of Ganley supporters waiting to take the EU polticial stage. Libertas.eu thus seems more akin to a political franchising operation following the modus operandi established by the late Sir James Goldsmith’s UK-based Referendum Party
, or in a slightly different way, Silvio Berlusconi’s launch of Forza Italia. Indeed, academics have already identified both a ‘franchise party’
and ‘business firm model’
of party emergence, only the Europe-wide nature of the franchising is novel.
The irony of a eurosceptic (and, in fairness, I should say that like most eurosceptics, he refutes the term) founding the first EU-wide political party is, of course, not lost on commentators, but a more interesting question, but there is a certain logic to it. A more interesting question s whether local eurosceptic groups will relish being invited to send applications to the Ganley’s Dublin and Brussels HQs for approval . Not surprisingly, the well established UK Indpendence Party feels Mr Ganley needs no UK branch. It’s also hard to imagine Václav Klaus or any of his very opinionated collaborators , who have been in the euroscepticism business much longer than Libertas, sending their CVs off to win Mr Ganley’s imprimatur.
Politically, there is the also the question whether a Europe-wide platform is really quite the way to go for forces which say that they value diversity and national sovereignty. On a pressure group level there are plenty of precedents of national groups forming EU-wide platforms, but whether political euroscepticism can reduce itself to narrow set of lobby demands is rather dubious. Put bluntly, who needs a European level eurosceptic platform – beyond Mr Ganley that is?
What Mr G does seem to have, of course, is money. Or perhaps the ability to tap the EU for campaign funding. This – and the imminence of European elections next year – seem to be the key reason that Libertas.eu has been launched as a political/electoral platform, rather than a civil society organization or pressure group along the lines of the original Irish Libertas.