What Do the EP Elections Mean for Georgia?
13 June, 2019
What Do the EP Elections Mean for Georgia?
The European Parliament elections are over, with the liberal wing sighing with relief, while the right wingers can smugly point to the increase to 25% of representation in the world 's second largest democratically elected parliament. But what does the new set-up mean for Georgia? As a Georgian at the European Commission, I tried to answer that in a piece written for the Georgian Foundation For Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation).

The mood on election night was quite gloomy in
Brussels. Europeanists from all sides felt anxious about the possible populist surge. It did not happen, yet there are still not many reasons to celebrate.

The good news is that the European Parliament (EP) elections gained something of a new momentum. Since its first ever direct elections in 1979, the voter turnout has continuously shrunk, while this year we saw an increased participation by almost 9% compared to the previous elections. This positive trend suggests that people are interested in Europe again, that there is an awakening of the European demos, who no longer view the EP elections as 'second order' elections. More good news is that the populists and nationalists are contained, and hysteria of a genuine cleavage among pro-EU and anti-EU populist forces is over.

The bad news is that the EU is left in uncertainty. Not because of fragmentation, after all the major parties secured a majority, but because of the growing division among the Member States, which hold conflicting visions on the future of Europe. In the new setting of the Council, it will become more difficult to reach agreements. The political ambiance is affected by the populists as well. Although they did not rise significantly, their share of seats increased from 20 to 25%. It is particularly worrisome that Italy, a founding Member State, is drifting away from EU principles and in the words of Nathalie Tocci, has “chosen a path of national marginalization.” Salvini's far right League party came first in Italy. It promises to change the rules of the EU game together with France, the UK, Hungary and Poland. Marine Le Pen's victory, although with a small margin, signals the weakening of Macron's Renaissance vision of the EU, while in the UK, Farage is again in the spotlight. In Belgium, election night turned out to be a 'Black Sunday' - the nationalist, separatist and anti-immigrant party, the Vlaams Belang (Flemish interest) won triple elections (regional, federal and European). The rise of these types of parties illustrates that the times of political taboos are over, and people are not shying away from proclaiming themselves extreme right.

These trends again confirm that the political architecture in Europe is in constant flux. However, we should not be mistaken into reading the European trends in the votes of a single country. If green politics appeal to German and French citizens, the same is not valid for example for Central and Eastern Europe. The voters' preferences appear fragmented, shedding light on the regional divisions and disparities within the Union.

But what do the EP elections mean for Georgia?


First of all, it means that there is a new balance of power in the European Parliament. 40 years of majority between the conservative center-right EPP (European People's Party) and PES (Party of European Socialists) is over, and broader coalitions are expected to be created, including among the Liberals and Greens. Now the challenges for Georgia might be that agreements and decisions on country specific issues and on foreign affairs (the Eastern Partnership), will be more complex and prolonged. Georgian diplomats will need to adjust their negotiation strategies to various political groups; however, their efforts will be in vein if national political parties do not decide to cooperate. The cross-party partnerships of leading Georgian parties will be needed to secure attention from Europarty (parties with EU-level officials, Members of the European Parliament) and relevant political figures. It is high time that the Georgian political parties pool their resources to lobby in a coordinated manner the country's strategic interests at the EU level.

Georgia's level of ambition will also depend on who will take the EU's top jobs. The key question here is will the next Commission be political or technical? If the Commission President will be chosen via the Spitzenkandidaten (lead candidate) procedure (which means that the European Council should propose a candidate taking into account the election results of the European Parliament), the Commission will emerge as a more political institution, strong enough to support by itself the new formats and partnerships with the neighborhood countries, including Georgia. If the Council decides to reject this procedure, the President will be nominated by the European Council. This will signal a return to intergovernmentalism, shifting the power balance towards the member states, which don't show much enthusiasm for the enlargement agenda. It is no coincidence that the European Commission recommended opening accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia in an annual report published recently; however, as Martin Selamayr, the European Commission's Secretary General, confirmed in a private talk, the result of the upcoming Council Summit in June will be zero, as Member States are reluctant. Naturally, in order to advance the neighborhood policies, it will be essential to have a strong High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as a committed Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy.

Looking ahead, it is clear that while the EU will need to fix its internal challenges, among others reconciling the populist moves and the green waves, Georgia should not find itself put aside. Its political elites should find a cross-party consensus and build a solid strategy involving civil society to advance the country's interests by enhancing its channels of strategic communication at the EU and Member States' level.

By Teona Lavrelashvili

Image source: ft.com

Related stories:



Print
Other Stories
NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Madeleine Moon visits Khurvaleti village
President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Madeleine Moon has arrived in the village of Didi Khurvaleti, in the Gori municipality, located near the Administrative Boundary Line.
“Georgia could soon be ready for regulations”
“With big money you can either build or destroy something”, says Vano Vashakmadze. The consultant for development in tourism helped to work out the new zone planning implemented by the government.
Mamuka Khazaradze establishes Lelo movement
The public movement of TBC Bank's founder Mamuka Khazaradze will be called Lelo.
TBC Bank founder Mamuka Khazaradze to establish social movement in Anaklia
The presentation of the social movement of the founder of TBC Bank Mamuka Khazaradze will be held tomorrow, September 12, in Anaklia. The event begins at 12:00.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen offers Georgia a way to join NATO
Georgia should start an internal discussion of whether it would be acceptable to join NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, - Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secreatry General of North-Atlantic Teaty Organisation, said.
“These protests are different”
«In Georgia protesting is almost a tradition», says the historian Simon Janashia who works at the American School in Tbilisi. But the current demonstrations are profoundly different.
Kelly Degnan nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to Georgia
President Donald Trump has submitted the nomination of Kelly Degnan to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Georgia.
Development of the Anaklia deep sea port should be in the interest of every Georgian, says Kurt Volker
Importance of the Anaklia deep sea port is huge for Georgia and the Georgians have heard about it from many politicians inside or outside of the country.
Clashes and whistling in the Georgian Parliament after nomination of new PM
Clashes took place at the entrances to the Parliament building today, as protesters held the "Shame on You" event.
“Georgian Dream” Party introduced Georgy Gakharia as Prime Minister
“Georgian Dream” party has introduced Interior Minister Georgy Gakharia to the post of Prime Minister.
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has resigned
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has resigned. Bakhtadze released the relevant statement on the social network.
There will be no war with Georgia, says De-facto official
Georgia's provocative actions at the "borders of South Ossetia" are just an attempt by the Georgian authorities to divert their population's attention from acute domestic problems
After the summer Tbilisi is expecting another hot season
Every evening in June and July hundreds of protesters came to the parliament to demonstrate.
Why so called South Ossetian delegation gave ultimatum to the Georgian side?
Representatives of de-facto regime of the Tskhinvali region gave ultimatum to the Georgian side to abolish the Georgian police block post near Tsnelisi until 6:00am, August 30th.
Former Russian Duma member sees theoretical chance of solution the Abkhazia problem
Former member of the Russian Duma, Ilya Ponomarev, believes that there is a theoretical chance of resolving the problem of occupied Abkhazia
Georgian president calls Brexit new opportunity (Watch video)
Georgians feel that they are Europeans. It is not something they are striving for. They are European, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili said in her interview with Euronews.
So called elections in Abkhazia go into second round
The “Presidential elections” in Abkhazia do not bring a clear leader. Nor are they recognized by a variety of states, among them the US, the UK, Ukraine and Latvia.
Representatives of diplomatic corps arrive in Gugutiantkari
Representatives of the diplomatic corps and the Government of Georgia are in the outskirts of the Gugutiantkari village of Gori municipality,
US State Department condemns Russian occupation of Georgia’s territories
The US state department has issued a statement condemning Russian occupation of Georgian territories – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region.
What went wrong in the 2008 August War? – Mikheil Saakashvili recalls
Today Georgia marks 11 years since the 2008 August War. After 11 years, there still are many unanswered questions.
After 11 years, Georgia commemorates the August War
It has been 11 years since the 2008 August War in Georgia. Officials and different politicians once again commemorated the date and made statements about the ongoing occupation of Georgia’s territories by Russia.
International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center publishes fresh survey
A new nationwide public opinion survey of Georgian citizens by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research
First comments made after Strasbourg Court’s decision over Rustavi 2
Rustavi 2 TV shareholder Kibar Khalvashi made first comment about the Strasbourg Court’s decision over Rustavi 2.
Bidzina Ivanishvili: "Who want closure of Russian market, are Georgia’s enemies"
Those, who tell-tale that we must replace the Russian market by the European and Ukrainian ones, are absolutely ignorant and uneducated,
Why Georgia is changing the mixed electoral system in favor of the proportional?
The Chairman of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze explained why Georgia has to change its mixed electoral system in favor of the proportional.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
15.09.2019
16.09.2019
USD
1
USD
2.9607
2.9607
EUR
1
EUR
3.2855
3.2855
GBP
1
GBP
3.6878
3.6878
RUB
100
RUB
4.6066
4.6066
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.9607
EUR
1
EUR
3.2855
GBP
1
GBP
3.6878
RUB
100
RUB
4.6066
September 2019
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30