Europe’s no Vatican, but a democracy.
Ronald van Raak
In my opinion, you should always play the ball and not the man. Unless of course the man is also the ball. Guy Verhofstadt is the leader of the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament. Prime Minister Mark Rutte would like to see him as the new president of the European Commission. ‘If the Vatican is looking for a new pope, you don’t say that the candidate is too Catholic,’ was Verhofstad’s answer when the national newspaper, the Volkskrant, asked him whether someone so pro-EU is a suitable candidate. This answer says a great deal, letting us see precisely where the problem lies – with the lack of a democratic understanding.
A Europhile who doesn’t pull his punches
I enjoy listening to Guy Verhofstadt, because this Europhile doesn’t pull his punches. Europe must become a single country with a single government, European taxes and European wages, a European army and European social security. Politicians who disagree are ‘a gang of scaredy-cats’. Leaders of nations he calls ‘mothers-in-law’, an obstacle. One of these ‘mothers-in-law’ is our own Mark Rutte, the same Mark Rutte who sees Verhofstadt as the ideal leader for Europe, an opinion he shares with Alexander Pechtold, the leader of the Netherlands’ other liberal party, D66, which sits in the ALDE group with Rutte’s VVD.
We are no Rutte, and we’re not under any obligation to back Guy Verhofstadt.
I hope that in the coming weeks, as the campaign for the European elections gets under way, Verhofstadt will be taking the floor often. This former prime minister of Belgium tells an honest story, one that our own Prime Minister Rutte doesn’t dare to come out with: ‘Sovereignty no longer exists at the national level’. And ‘Leaders who assert otherwise are cheating the public.’ We aren’t Rutte, and we’re not under any obligation to back Guy Verhofstadt. Europe isn’t the Vatican, but a democracy. More Europe isn’t a faith, but a choice. I’m convinced that Guy Verhofstadt will help a lot of Dutch voters to choose well on May 22nd.
This opinion article first appeared, in the original Dutch, on the website The Post Online. Ronald van Raak is a Member of Parliament for the SP.