Posts in "Estonia" Category

A more fragmented political scene, but economic liberals are set to retain power

Estonia’s parliamentary elections, held on Sunday 1 March, saw the market-liberal Reform Party, led by Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (pictured), returned as the largest party in a more diverse and right-wing parliament.

The Reform Party, which has supplied the prime minister since 2005, took 27.7 per cent of the vote and 30 seats in the 101-seat Riigikogu, down nearly one point on its score in the previous elections in 2011. It lost three seats.

However, its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, fared worse, winning just 15.2 per cent of the vote, down nearly two points and four seats on its 2011 showing.

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A five-point guide to the EU top jobs puzzle

This weekend, the European Council will meet again to decide on the holders of the EU’s top jobs.

Here’s our five-point guide to Saturday’s meeting and what it means – and have your say on one of the key issues of the summer by voting in our poll.

1. Time for action

hvr squareAfter the failure to agree on the top jobs at the last summit in July, European Union leaders are under pressure to reach an accord. The European Council is increasingly gaining a reputation as an institution that takes too long to decide anything, and whose decisions are often ‘fudges’.

Saturday is the crunch moment: if EU leaders fail to conclude a ‘package’ of appointments, it will put paid to any remote hopes of appointing the Commission on time. More importantly in the long term, it will increase popular and global perceptions of the EU as a sclerotic organisation. Herman Van Rompuy (pictured left), the President of the European Council, was criticised by EU leaders and many analysts for not preparing a watertight deal before July’s summit (although he was not helped by some prime ministers). The President will not want another failure.

The decisions are not easy: there are significant political, institutional and personal headaches for the 28 leaders. But the leaders are there to lead, and to decide. It’s time to act.

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Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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Building a new Commission – the runners and riders for the next College

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]Post updated later on Wednesday 11 June to account for news that Dacian Cioloș (Agriculture and Rural Development; Romania) may be re-nominated to the Commission.[/infopane]

With the choice of a President of the European Commission still up in the air, we are a long way off knowing the full team that will occupy the upper floors of the Berlaymont for the next five years.

Nevertheless, national governments are already putting forward their proposed nominees to sit in the new College. Here’s our look at the comings and goings in the Commission in 2014, and the potential candidates to take a seat in the new Commission.

If you have comments or suggestions, please include them in the comments box.

See our country-by-country guide to the potential nominees

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Elections round-up: EPP loses but stays as biggest group, while anti-EU parties surge

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Europe’s voters have backed a vast array of anti-EU and anti-establishment voters in the 2014 European Parliament elections, sending fewer MEPs from each of the main political groups back to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Despite being the biggest loser of the night in terms of seats, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) looks like emerging as the biggest party in the European Parliament with its support holding up in Germany and Poland among the larger member states, and good support across central and Eastern Europe. The Socialists are also set to lose a handful of seats, with the Liberals likely to lose around 20 seats according to the latest projections.

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Italy’s Commission nominee: recycling à la Renzi

Matteo_Renzi_crop_new

When it comes to this year’s European Parliament elections, Italy is lagging behind.

So far, none of the major parties have announced their full lists for the election, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (pictured right) is yet to put forward a nominee to be a European commissioner.

The reason for these delays is the high level of uncertainty on the Italian political scene. Renzi won the leadership of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in December; two months later he ousted Enrico Letta to take control of a reshuffled government.

The centre-right has fragmented, with ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia re-emerging and the New Centre-Right being established. Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) has sown further confusion with its unpredictable policies and personalities.

It is in this political climate that Renzi will need to consider potential candidates for Italy’s nomination to the European Commission.

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50 days to go, 50 things to know about Europe’s year of change

The countdown continues: at 08:00 CET on Wednesday 2 April, there are exactly 50 days to go to the opening of the polls for the European Parliament elections.

Here is our overview of where we stand and what you need to know about Europe’s year of change:

Top jobs | Country-by-country | PollWatch 2014 | The elections and beyond | Reading list

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Weekend round-up: PES Congress confirms Schulz as common candidate

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Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, was officially confirmed as the ‘common candidate’ of the Party of European Socialists during an election congress in Rome.

Schulz – the only candidate – was backed by 368 delegates in the Italian capital. Two delegates opposed Schulz and 34 abstained.

In his acceptance speech, Schulz set out his priorities should he become President of the European Commission. He highlighted that his first priority would be employment, a theme that is also prominent in the Socialist manifesto, also adopted in Rome.

The Congress welcomed the Italian Democratic Party (PD) as its newest member, with the moniker ‘Socialists and Democrats’ now added to the Party’s logo – possibly hinting that the parliamentary Socialists and Democrats Group, whose name was changed to reflect the inclusion of the PD, will revert to the ‘PES’ name after the elections.

Read our Storify of the PES Congress (storify.com) See our photos from the Congress (flickr.com)
PES manifesto (pes.eu) Martin Schulz’ speech (pes.eu) Martin Schulz campaign website

The election of Schulz as the Socialists’ common candidate means that the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is the only main party yet to officially name its candidate.

On Friday, Michel Barnier – the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services – joined the race, nominated by his own party (France’s Union for a Popular Movement) and backed by EPP member parties in Hungary and Slovenia.

Barnier will face the former prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker (also backed by parties in Germany and Greece), who is favourite to win the nomination, and former Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis, who is supported by parties in Estonia and Lithuania, as well as his own party.

EPP delegates will pick the party’s lead candidate in Dublin on Friday.

EPP Dublin Elections Congress website

The European Democratic Party, whose members include the Democratic Movement (MoDem) in France, adopted its manifesto and will chose its common candidate on 12 March.

EDP manifesto (pde-edp.eu)
A number of national parties also selected candidates for the European Parliament elections this weekend (click the country name to go to the candidates list for that country):
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Read our lists of European Parliament candidates

 

Northern Lights and rising stars heading for Brussels

6503846831_2f511beb1a_oFor some countries, nominees to the European Commission often emerge as a result of national problem-solving exercises – focusing on who needs to be removed from the national political arena without their pride being damaged, who needs to be compensated for poor treatment in the past, or whose departure causes the fewest ripples.

This hardly looks like being the case for Finland and Estonia in 2014. Both countries are set to send top-level politicians to serve in the Commission – and possibly even their prime ministers.

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