Does Libertas really believe what its new right wing friends believe, asks Dave Uwakwe, or is it just desperate for allies?
The recent controversy surrounding Libertas’s efforts to register itself as a European political party in time for the upcoming European elections has brought confusion and clarity in equal measure to our understanding of the organisation as a political entity.
The confusion has resulted from the denial of two of the supposed signatories to their application for EU funds to help finance their campaign. First, Igor Grazin, an Estonian MP denied that he had ever given his signature to any such application shortly followed by Bulgarian MP Mincho Kuminev who also strenuously denies ever signing any documents in relation to Libertas.
Libertas fired back claiming that those individuals were intimidated into rescinding their support by the European Commission. On their website they have posted photo evidence of the signatures in question on the pertinent documents.
The rules concerning the establishment of pan-European political parties stipulate that at least seven signatures from national or European politicians must be obtained in order to access campaign funds. Consequently the €200,000 granted to Libertas will not actually be made available to them until a full investigation has been carried out.
The Libertas chairman Declan Ganley has lashed out at Brussels, accusing the commission and parliament of orchestrating a dirty tricks campaign, indicative of the un-democratic practises that he and his party want to rid Europe of.
Out of this suspicion and uncertainty however some clarity is beginning to emerge as to exactly what kind of values Libertas espouse, apart from their monolithic opposition to the Lisbon Treaty. By looking at the ideologies subscribed to by those who whose signatures remain on the ill-fated application documents we can surmise Libertas’s own ideological outlook.
“A very clear picture is emerging, and one that begs us to look twice at the stated objectives of the Libertas manifesto”
A very clear picture is emerging, and one that begs us to look twice at the stated objectives of the Libertas manifesto, one of which reads; “For Europe to build a true and successful Union, that Union must include and involve you. The conditions must be subject to you. They must respect your identity and culture.”
One of the signatories of the Libertas application is Cyprian Gutowski, regional assembly member for the All-Polish Youth party. Was it respectful of the identity and culture of all Europeans when members of that party were filmed at in the company of neo-Nazi skin heads, listening to Nazi songs and saluting the swastika?
How indeed does Chairman Ganley propose to harmonise the opposition of the All-Polish Youth party to liberalism, tolerance and relativism, as stated in their founding manifesto, with Libertas’ own profession to “stand for tolerance and for the belief that every citizen has rights and limitless potential.”
How does their stated respect for an individual’s rights of culture and identity chime with the values held by the True Finns party, with whom Libertas are in talks about forming a parliamentary alliance? The Finnish State prosecutor is considering whether to press hate crimes charges against one of that party’s councillors, resulting from his daily anti-immigration blog.
Another supporter is Georgios Georgiou, a member of a Greek nationalist party called Laikos Orthodoxos Synagermos which released a statement when the mayor of the island of Tilos presided over a homosexual civil marriage deploring “the cruel reality that we are living in the society of faggots.”
But we need not look as far as Libertas’s colourful friends overseas to uncover apparent double standards between what the party says and what the party does. Libertas consistently calls for “a new, democratic, accountable and open European Union” whilst failing to account for its own sources of funding and finance to the satisfaction of the Oireachtas or the European Commission, a full eight months after the Lisbon referendum was held.
Until all of this is resolved, and Libertas reveal their actual candidates and policies the information that can be gleaned from the murky waters surrounding the organisation point to a series of contradictions; a purportedly centrist party that gladly enlists the support of anti-semites and homophobes, a supposedly Europhile party that has scoured the halls of Brussels for every Eurosceptic and secessionist to fill its ranks with and finally a party calls for accountability from others whilst refusing to disclose its own sources of funding.
This might all be put down to teething troubles or political naivety. Whatever it is, Ganley and co have a little over four months to prove they are not the far right Eurosceptics that they increasingly appear to be.