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FF ‘may switch to the Liberals’—Eh, since when are FF liberals?

Read more about: Connaught-Ulster, Dublin, Fianna Fail, Irish Election, Irish Politics, Leinster, Munster, Polls     Print This Post

According to a report in this Saturday’s Irish Times, Bertie Ahern is considering a switch to the Liberal grouping in the European Parliament in time for the next European elections. Currently aligned with a group of right, reactionary, far-right and conservative parties in the ‘mishmash’ that is the UEN, it would appear that the desire of FF HQ to leave the UEN for the embrace of the Liberal grouping is still strong.

This is after FF’s MEPs rebelled previously against the idea of leaving the UEN (in 2004), and, of course, after the embarrassment earlier this year when Ógra were effectively stopped from any future co-operation with Lymec—the ELDR’s youth grouping—after Young PD opposition.

What are people’s views on this? Does the fact that FF aren’t Liberals even remotely concern anyone in this? Will this potential move leave FF in the Euro elections open to attack on abortion? How do the PDs feel about all this?

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9 Responses to “FF ‘may switch to the Liberals’—Eh, since when are FF liberals?”

  1. # Comment by JJ Carroll Dec 19th, 2006 07:12
  2. # Comment by Brian Boru Dec 19th, 2006 08:12

    Well to be fair it’s no longer merely a “Liberal” group but rather following a recent merger is the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats). As such, FF could argue that while not a liberal party, they are a democratic one and fit in that way. I agree they are not liberals e.g. protection of VHI, opposition to meaningful competition in electricity, gas market, surrendering to the unions etc. but they are at least democrats.

  3. # Comment by simon Dec 19th, 2006 08:12

    It is all just names and posing in Europe

  4. # Comment by Keith Dec 19th, 2006 10:12

    It most certainly isn’t, Simon. The PES is quite tightly knit, and there’s a lot of policy discussion and agreement among parties.

    Most Euro parties prohibit membership of competing parties in their organisations – the PDs are already in ALDE, so FF couldn’t join unless a) the PDs leave; or b) the PDs give direct permission. I don’t see either happening.

    I think the Government are starting to feel isolated in Europe to some extent though.

  5. # Comment by Paddy Matthews Dec 19th, 2006 12:12

    The Liberals in Europe are a fairly diverse lot anyway, ranging from the free-market, immigrant-bashing Venstre in Denmark or VVD in Holland (Brian Boru’s type of “liberal” party) through to the economically leftish, anti-war Lib Dems in Britain or Radikale Venstre in Denmark. I doubt if Bertie Ahern would be any less liberal than the likes of Rita Verdonk.

    Fianna Fáil would probably be a close enough match to the Centre Parties in Sweden or Finland – originally farmers’ parties, economically centrist, not particularly Euro-enthusiastic – and those parties are part of the ALDE, along with the “Liberal” parties in those countries. Whatever else you can say about Fianna Fáil, they at least have seats in the European Parliament, unlike the PDs. The only Irish MEP currently in ALDE is Marian Harkin, who is not a PD either.

  6. # Comment by John Carroll Dec 19th, 2006 13:12

    One thing that is interesting, but rarely noted, is that in the Council of Europe FF site with ALDE.

  7. # Comment by Keith Dec 19th, 2006 14:12

    They may find a way to sit with ALDE, but they’ll have a lot of problems joining it.

  8. # Comment by Paddy Matthews Dec 19th, 2006 16:12

    They may find a way to sit with ALDE, but they’ll have a lot of problems joining it.

    My understanding is that ALDE is a group in the European Parliament – a federation of two parties (ELDR and EDP) rather than a party in its own right.

    The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (French: Alliance des Démocrates et des Libéraux pour l’Europe, Dutch: Alliantie van Liberalen en Democraten voor Europa) is a Group in the European Parliament. It is composed of members from the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, European Democratic Party and assorted independents. Both European political parties continue to exist. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is also a political group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_of_Liberals_and_Democrats_for_Europe

    In that case, surely the only person who might have a veto over their joining would be Marian Harkin. The PDs, not having any MEPs, would have little say in the matter. Didn’t Graham Watson (the leader of ALDE) support Ógra’s application to join LYMEC?

  9. # Comment by John Carroll Dec 19th, 2006 16:12

    As I understand, it once 66% of ALDE members (presumably parties in parliament) vote to allow FF in, they will be in the group. I doubt that will be a problem, given Cox and Watson support for FF.

    BTW, I doubt the PDs are in ALDE, as it is just a parliamentary grouping. I thought they were just in ELDR?

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