Subsidies for EU-critical party give Green Left a heartache

20 February 2009

Subsidies for EU-critical party give Green Left a heartache

As a European political party, Libertas, founded by the Irish group of the same name which formed an important element in the Irish campaign for a 'no' to the Lisbon Treaty, will be able to claim subsidies from the European Union. This is the same for all political parties who fulfil the criteria for registration as a 'European political party'. Some people find this objectionable, because Libertas is critical of this EU and continues to oppose the Lisbon Treaty, which is almost identical to the 'European Constitution'. Although the 2008 campaign in Ireland was organised principally by the left, the contribution of the centre-right Libertas cannot be ignored. Now the group has announced that it will be standing candidates, in principle throughout the EU, in the coming elections for the European Parliament.

A Member of the European Parliament, Joost Lagendijk of the Green Left, said on national TV news recently that he found it difficult to accept that Libertas had a right to this money: "I'd rather spend my money on something else than on Eurosceptics. But they fulfil the criteria, so that's that. With pain in my heart."

Responding to Lagendijk's statement, SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard said, "This is public money. Eurosceptics are citizens too, and they have the right to be represented. All that should cause a real pain in your heart is that those with different views from oneself cannot make their voices heard. If one party isn't entitled to subsidies, then none of them should be."

As a member of the Green Left, which at the last Dutch general election garnered fewer than 5% of the total vote, Lagendijk is himself representative of a political minority. Not only that, but a clear majority of the Dutch people voted in 2005 to say no to the European Constitution and thus to the transfer of yet more powers to Brussels, to yet more liberalisation, and to obligatory militarisation. The voters in our country rejected a measure, en masse, which was favoured by the Green Left.

It is also incidentally quite remarkable that, during the news programme on which Lagendijk made his statement, Libertas was described as an 'anti-European' party. It is certainly a party which wants a different voice to be heard in Brussels on the subject of Europe's direction: the EU executive must become more democratic, more accountable and more transparent, for example. The citizens of the member states must have more say in how decisions are taken in Brussels, decisions which now exert a great influence on our everyday lives.

Luckily for the Dutch people the SP is a party of the left which has been making the same points for many years.

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