Once upon a time… there was Italy. However, in the next European legislature Italy will have no representatives in the board of the European People’s Party group (EPP), the most prominent political organism within the European Parliament. For the first time in the history of the elected European Parliament, the Italian delegation will not have the vice presidency of the group. The unprecedented, negative, result is the further demonstration of the political weakness of the founding country of the EU.
The EPP group renovated its internal organization, as it happens immediately after the European elections. Once the vote has taken place, every political group starts working by welcoming the elected candidates and establishing the new working team. It means to elect the new president, the new vice- presidents and the new treasurer. In the distribution of the positions, no chairs were given to Italians.
The new EPP group presidency office
The outgoing German president Manfred Weber was confirmed as head of the parliamentary group. The ten vice-presidents are Dubravka Šuica (Croatia), Esteban Gonzalez Pons (Spain), Ewa Kopacz (Poland), Siegfried Muresans (Romania), Mairead McGuinness (Ireland), Esther de Lange (the Netherlands), Arnaud Danjean (France), Andrey Kovatchev (Bulgaria), Evangelos Meimarakis (Greece), and Paulo Rangel (Portugal).
The presidency leads the Group in plenary sittings and represents the Group externally. So Italy has no representation and no voice on the political agenda. Since decisions on the political line are taken in this context, Italy is out of the games.
Forza Italia’s weakness pushed Italy out of EPP group presidency
It is the bad electoral performance of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) at the 26 May elections to have determined this historical situation. FI got reached only the 8.8% of general consent, the worst result ever since its foundation in 1994. Forza Italia always got a double-digit percentage in terms of votes, but this wasn’t the case. On the contrary, other EPP members performed better. As a consequence, to Italy is left only one official position– an EPP sources explained.
The distribution of the top jobs is made by using the D’Hondt method, which is the highest averages method for allocating seats on proportional basis. In simpler words, size matters and Forza Italia is too small to wish for more than one top position.
Forza Italia running for Committee chair or EP vice-president
Silvio Berlusconi’s party has at disposal one and only prominent position. Once it was clear that the Italian delegation couldn’t have more than this – the official candidacy for the vice-presidency of the EPP group was withdrawn. Italians will try to run for a more political and more substantial role – the vice-presidency of the European Parliament or chairing one of the Parliamentary committees.
Now the question is: who will be the top candidate for Forza Italia? Silvio Berlusconi, president of the party, and Antonio Tajani, outgoing president of the European Parliament, are the most likely candidates. But Berlusconi appears too old (he’s 82) for a full-time job. So perhaps Tajani can have some chance to play the role of committee president or even claim an EP vice-president post.
Despite what can happen now on, it is a fact that the pro-European center-right of Italy is experiencing a deep crisis. It is marginalized as never happened since 1979, when the first European elections took place. The political decline of one of fathers of Europe is well depicted also in the poor position within the EPP, since the beginning of one of the main decision makers of the EU policies.
From 1979 to 1994 European elections EPP always emerged as the second biggest party, and by reflex, the second biggest Parliamentary group. From 1999 elections on, EPP has become the first party and group. There is no decision taken in EU without the political activity of the Christian-democrats. Once, Italy was in the front line within the group, now it counts less than Bulgaria and Croatia.
With MEPs from the League, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Brothers of Italy (FdI) in the opposition and MEPs from FI out of the decision room of the EPP, Italy is vanishing.