EU Debate 2014: My Dad's On TV!
Who wants to be the new Barroso? Last night we got to find out. This is the first time the President of the EU Commission will be democratically elected. This is the first time we get to see the candidates slug it out on telly. As the saying goes, "this time it's different". So just what did they have to say for themselves? Who deserves the EU top job?
Ska Keller, 32, Germany, European Green Party
Ska Keller proposed a “green new deal” with the mantra: “a more democratic Europe which takes care of people”. Maybe it sounds trivial when repeated... or maybe it sounds like a new tune for the Old Continent. Her supporters say the sound of Ska could be the new melody Europe needs to inspire solidarity and social solutions.
But some people thought these utopian vibes were all hot air. Lots of words, lots of dreams, but fewer “concrete solutions". Maybe because she’s the youngest candidate, maybe because she’s the green candidate, maybe due to her gandhian solutions for the crisis in Ukraine, but most of Keller’s detractors accuse her of naivete and unrealistic utopian ideals.
Translation: Who advises candidates how to dress? Ska Keller is saved.
Ska Keller offers a striking visual contrast to the 3 “old men of EU politics”. Yes sir, politics has not only a communication code but also a dress one. Franziska, the 32 year old German, wears a bright red jacket and smiles. It's a world away from Verhofstadt’s snot-coloured tie, Juncker’s ghostly vibe and Schulz' goatee. Green is the colour of hope, red the colour of passion (and moreover “red” Tsipras was not there to claim the copyright.)
Guy Verhofstadt, 61, Belgium, European Liberals
Translation: Verhofstadt promises 50/50 men/women in the Commission. Bold!
Guy Verhofstadt: The Belgian liberal was applauded for promising 50 per cent women in the commission when elected. “Bold”!
He indeed touches on a pressing issue because only 9 of 28 current Commissioners are female.
His economic vision for the future of the EU is more contested. People are scared of “less regulation” and “more privatization”.
But in the end Guy Verhofstadt can really count on his family. His son Louis even recognized him on TV: “That’s MY Dad”.
Martin Schulz, 58, Germany, Progressive alliance of socialists and democrats
So Schulz' vision of Europe is clear enough to tempt a hardline right winger? He must be doing something right. But in this case, inertia is on Juncker's side. But wait a moment... what is his vision of Europe? Can you really convey any vision in 30 second soundbites?
This Southern Italian thinks Schulz should get out more and base his policies on the evidence on the ground. Of course Schulz can't be blamed for corruption in Italy, but criticism of the "Brussels bubble" is not unfounded.
Translation: The new Green Keller wins, Juncker loses, and Schulz makes a fool of himself saying "vote for me, I'm a popstar."
When it came to the issue of leadership Schulz said he was prepared to be our “popstar”. We can’t wait for the moment when he appears next to Bono in the charts.
Jean-Claud Juncker, 59, Luxembourg, European People's Party
Translation: Juncker is a pleasant suprise. Right-wing, yes, but a right-wing that’s intelligent and not populist.
Finding a positive tweet about Juncker’s performance was a challenge. In any case, this “not populist” compliment is somewhat tendentious. Guy Verhofstadt taunted Juncker about populist hell-raiser Silvio Berlusconi’s membership of the EPP Juncker leads. Ska Keller also attacked Juncker, saying the EPP repeat the slogans of extreme-right populists; “immigration flood gates” what...??
Obviously you can’t blame Juncker for looking like a wax work model, but you can certainly blame him for acting like one. He was widely lambasted for his stale style. Would it have been better for his ratings if he didn’t turn up at all?
The Juncker bus… it sure ain’t pretty. And it’s provided ample ammunition for the Juncker parody twitter account: “My main campaign themes for #EUdebate2014: jobs, jobs, jobs, people, people, people. I have a bus. I have a bus.” “I'm looking forward to #EUdebate2014 tonight. I imagine it'll be the usual chants of "Go Juncker" with teenage girls screaming and fainting.” Schulz isn't the only rock star on offer.
Aléxis Tsípras, 39, Greece, Coalition of the Radical Left
didn't come ...