EU election campaign: who are the candidates?

Campaigns for the European Parliament elections at the end of May are launching across Europe. Forecasts see the Eurosceptics making gains while the established parties lose a substantial number of seats. Whether the British will take part is still unclear. Commentators express their wishes - and ideas for codes of conduct - to politicians and voters alike.

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Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Longing for more Europe

Journalist Mattias Svensson describes what he would like the European elections to achieve in Dagens Nyheter:

“I long for a day when services will be as mobile in Europe as goods. I long for a global trade agreement that abolishes tariffs for environmentally friendly goods and services. ... European taxpayers will have to subsidise the dirtiest coal-fired power plants until 2025, but I long for a day when state-subsidised coal is a thing of the past. I long for a Europe that is more productive, more dynamic, and more attractive than it is today. The development of mobility and freedom is and remains an investment in such a future.”

Jydske Vestkysten (DK) /

Don't be useful idiots

In Denmark voters have been able to cast their votes by mail since Monday. This prompts Jydske Vestkysten to warn against fake news circulating online:

“Our relationship with the EU is different to that with the Danish parliament. The EU has a major impact on our everyday life yet our knowledge of it isn't exactly overwhelming. This weakness can be exploited by EU opponents. News on social networks must always be taken with more than just pinch of salt. But now we must be even more careful before we 'like' something, share news or believe information that turns up on Facebook. If we help to spread fake news we become useful idiots for forces that have no good intentions towards our country.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Value of the EU still unclear to many voters

Around 100 million people in the EU who are entitled to vote still don't know who to vote for in the European elections, according to a recent study. The parties are mainly to blame, writes La Vanguardia:

“The main reason could be the lack of enthusiasm of the national parties on the one hand. And on the other their difficulties in conveying to voters the importance of the work that is done in Brussels - not just when it comes to shaping the present but also in creating better conditions for future coexistence. ... The future of each of the countries of the European Union is increasingly being forged in Brussels. And it is there that the destiny of the Old Continent and its cultural identity will be decided.”

Polityka (PL) /

Mussolini's grandson symbolises Italian right

Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini's candidacy well illustrates Italy's shift to the right, Polityka writes:

“The youngest politician in the Mussolini family does not shy away from ties with fascism. His first campaign speech, planned for April 10 in Conselve, was cancelled due to suspicions that he would disseminate fascist ideas. In the restaurant where Mussolini was to appear, seats had been reserved for the leaders of the neo-fascist group Veneto Fronte Skinheads, known for their racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric and their support for Northern Italian separatism. ... In view of the mood in Italian society, which is increasingly polarised and hostile to minorities, it's not impossible that his party Fratelli d'Italia could win at least a few seats in the EU Parliament.”

Politico (BE) /

More women in parliament!

Corinna Horst, deputy director of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, hopes in Politico that in future more women will be elected to the EU Parliament:

“Even in Europe, women should talk more about what's important for them. There's a lot to be concerned about: the uncertainty over Brexit, the rise of anti-European, right-wing populism, the unresolved question of how to deal with migration, the reform of the Eurozone. ... To change both the tone of the debate as well as the way of dealing with big problems, more women must follow in the footsteps of the pioneers. The recipe is simple. Parties: present more women candidates. Women: make your voices heard.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Don't send political outcasts to the EP

More than ever the Europe needs competent MEPs now, El Mundo appeals to the parties that are working on their lists of candidates:

“ In the next European Parliament the two big political families - the People's Party and the Socialists - will no longer have a majority between themselves. This will make multi-party pacts necessary in a legislative period in which Europe must advance in the integration process and speak with one voice if it wants to be a key player in a global game that is becoming more and more complex. We are experiencing a transcendental moment in the integration process which calls for a political leadership that is up to the task. So of course it's not a good sign when we see that in putting together their lists of candidates, the major Spanish parties are treating the EU Parliament more like an elephants' graveyard [for politicians who have had their day] than an important decision-making body that determines our present.”

Azonnali (HU) /

Opposition has missed its chance

The Hungarian opposition parties have missed their chance to mobilise Orbán's opponents, the news website Azonnali writes:

“The middle classes in the cities and rural areas are basically willing to vote, but you'd have to sweat blood to get Fidesz's lumpenproletariat to go to the ballot box because they don't have a clue what the European elections are. No doubt it would be easy to mobilise all those with Instagram or Facebook accounts, or who read Index. They don't want to vote Fidesz. At least they could have been given a small nudge. Maybe a joint campaign stressing that while there's no coalition, voting for any one of these five parties will at least give it a chance. No matter which you vote for, it'll be a vote against Viktor Orbán.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

EU infiltrated by opponents of Islam

Daily Sabah is worried about the expected increase in anti-European and anti-Muslim forces in the EU Parliament:

“Not only will the number of far-right and far-left populist members of parliament increase after May 27, 2019, in the corridors of the European Parliament, which claims to be the highest democratic institution of the EU and has a 'sacred' duty to preserve EU values. All European Parliament resources, which are very costly for EU citizens, will be abused by members of parliament who are in direct opposition to the EU and Europe. Taxes paid by European Muslims and Turks - either EU citizens or working in the EU - will be used to battle Muslims and Turks.”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

No black-and-white thinking, please!

In the campaign for the elections the Swedish Trade Union Confederation is using an ad with video footage showing Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke demanding lower wages for women. These polarising tactics are not a good idea, Göteborgs-Posten explains:

“Those who maintain that they hate Europe have changed their strategy. Instead of rejecting the EU as such, they are calling for an alternative union. ... It's easier to maintain that peace in Europe is under threat than it is to say that we need a new chemicals directive or that it's time for Europe-wide control of antibiotics use. ... So it can be tempting to reduce debate on Europe to the question of whether you're for it or against it. ... That works well when the opponent is almost a parody, like Korwin-Mikke. But it's hardly a good strategy against the 'Europe-haters' who will be running in this election.”

Haniotika Nea (GR) /

Europe is very distant for the Greeks

Haniotika Nea is enraged by the way the European elections are treated in Greek public life:

“It was always like this in our country. Since we joined the EU (in 1981) the European elections have been more about our internal affairs than about the events in Europe! No one informs us about what we call Europe, or about what is going on there. We talk about the European elections but we see Europe as something distant that is only important for the Germans, the French, the Italians and so on, but not for the average Greek voter. It's one of the paradoxes of Greek politics: the European election is just around the corner but the politicians are focussed on ancient scandals, corruption, entanglements, the candidates. ... Not on what the European elections are really about: the future of this great family - the world's greatest post-war achievement.”

Le Monde (FR) /

EU must focus on migration policy

Migration policy should play a key role in the election campaign, Le Monde admonishes:

“This sensitive topic still risks getting out of control, as was made clear by the recent dissent in Europe over the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration - which was backed by the UN but decried by the populists. Brussels still hasn't developed a common immigration - or even asylum - policy. Whatever course the campaign takes, the problem of migration will remain one of the top priorities of European leaders. Because in recent years the countries have proven incapable of showing sufficient solidarity to jointly approach this issue for which there can be no national solution. Forgetting that would be to play right into the hands of the far right.”