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12 january 2014, another round needed

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

In the run up to every european election, the pitch gets a little higher that this time around (the quiet road to 2009) each party will select a pan-european candidate for commission president, giving the election more singularity and bite, and helping to bridge the "democratic deficit". This would build on what, despite falling turnout, is the ever more powerful european parliament (13 march 2013, not the papal elections; parliament of bores ?; 12 february 2011, strasbourg: bring the roof down). At the same time the powers that be, to date the member states, also appoint the council president, the otherwise-named foreign minister (21 november 2009, what to say of ashton and humpty rumpty) and nato's secretary-general (12 june 2011, two decades later...). Come the may elections then, expect to hear the name martin shulz, the candidate-to-be of the centre left. Although how much the uk labour party will push forward a german as the likely result of voting for them remains to be seen. The leading liberal candidates are ollie rehn (who I've met and rate) and (surely-not) guy verhofstadt. Least likely of all to push forward a unitary-candiate are the merkel-led centre-right, with the dominant view being these roles are for member states to decide. This creates the prospect of one side doing it, the another not and so it will be hard to analyse what difference it makes. Anyway, the biggest story of the elections looks already written, namely to what degree can the assorted anti-federalists of the front national, ukip, jobbik, gert wilders et al (23 september 2013, europe is not (too) right) sweep all before them, and in their wake can any clutch of new appointments have the legitimacy they need to conduct the eu's business. Probably, is the answer, but surely not without taking yet anotherstep back not forward in answering the democratic deficit questions.