The Slovenia Times

Are Liberal Parties Ready for Joint EU Slate?



Speaking to the press in Ljubljana, where Verhofstadt as ALDE's candidate for new head of the EU Commission is meeting representatives of liberal parties and encouraging them to stand in the 25 May election together, Kacin (ALDE/LDS) said that "at least three parties are cooperating".

He was referring to the Citizens' List (DL), and the non-parliamentary Zares and LDS, while he added that "we are still waiting for the [ruling] PS to talk to itself".

After that the concluding stage of the talks can follow, Kacin said, while LDS president Anton Anderlič said that things should be clear within two weeks. Anderlič however stressed that after the prospects for a joint list seemed remote, things have taken a positive turn in recent talks.

Kacin, who explained that enough verified signatures have already been collected for him to also run independently, indicated later that the LDS, Zares and DL were also ready to go ahead together without the PS.

The probability of a joint effort by the liberal parties - at least by the coalition PS and DL - seemed diminished in recent weeks, also because Slovenia's member of the European Commission Janez Potočnik turned down an offer to run on their slate.

Verhofstadt meanwhile repeated today his basic analysis of what went wrong in the EU in recent years and of the necessary measures, arguing that liberal pro-European lists are the best solution to the eurosceptics, nationalists and populists on the rise around the EU.

He argued that both the conservatives and socialists - each governing roughly half of the EU's countries - had gotten it wrong and that the solutions lie neither in austerity nor in more debt but in a two-track approach combining fiscal discipline and a more integrated Europe that will secure growth.

Pointing among other things to the need for a banking union and a common bond market that would push down interest rates, Verhofstadt was also very critical of the European Commission and its head Jose Manuel Barroso, saying they had failed "use their power, their right of initiative".

"How can you force Berlin and Paris to accept something if you don't try, if you don't put it on the table," he said in a separate interview with the STA.

As regards his effort to secure a joint running of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe-associated parties in the EU election, Verhofstadt told the press that he was trying to make his case around the EU and that "Slovenia has not been the worst pupil in the class".

He said that his argument was simple and that he for instance secured the UDI-Modem alliance in France by pointing out that each party would separately get two MEP posts, while together they would get ten.

ALDE hopes to preserve at least two MEPs from Slovenia and remain the third strongest group in the EU parliament, Verhofstadt announced.

Verhofstadt also commented on the Ukraine for the STA, rejecting views that the crisis was a result of EU pressure and noting that he "was on Maiden on 20 February, the day of all the killings".

"My impression when I saw all these people was not that they were part of a geopolitical fight between the EU and Russia. They simply want to have a normal life," he said, describing Ukraine as country "corrupt from the bottom to the top".

Verhofstadt is in favour of the financial package in support of Ukraine and is also not averse to sanctions against Russia, although he believes that "before you do that, you have to extend the list of the oligarchs for the asset freezing and the visa bans".


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