According to a report in this week’s edition of POLITICO, the “Liberal” group in the European Parliament, ALDE, are now plotting to get their leader, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, elected as the new President of the European Parliament, following Martin Schulz’s failure to secure a third mandate.
Verhofstadt has been ALDE’s leader since 2009 and frontrunner under the controversial “Spitzenkandidat” system in the last EP elections in 2014, but apparently he was not very appealing to the electorate, with the number of ALDE MEPs dwindling from 100 (in 2004) to 85 (in 2009), and then further to 68 (in 2014). This notwithstanding, Verhofstadt thinks that he is the natural candidate if the political left does not want the post being taken by the center-right EPP: “the Left needs to rally behind somebody who can actually win, someone who is able to bridge the gap between right and left”. To squeeze out the EPP, Verhofstadt would need the support not only of the Socialists (S&D), but also of the Greens and the Communists. In other words, he is not ashamed of flirting with the extremist fringe.
Besides the mere greed for influential and well-paid posts in the EU institutions, the main political convergencies between ALDE and its friends from the political (extreme left) are not on economic issues, but rather on social issues such as the dismantling of marriage and family, the undermining of essential human rights through the legalization of abortion and euthanasia, and the fostering of “diversity” through mass-immigration in order to undercut the cultural identity of Europe as a Christian continent. We may therefore expect that under Verhofstadt as president, the European Parliament would, even more than in the past, be transformed into a stage for tedious culture wars (on issues that mostly fall outside the EU’s competences) rather than a beacon of reform.