Why the left should be just as angry about Juncker as David Cameron


The fact that David Cameron recognises the unsuitability of Jean Claude Juncker doesn’t make it any less true

Juncker ncrjThe impending anointment of Jean Claude Juncker to the presidency of the European Commission is supposed to be something of concern only to the right. Specifically, David Cameron and his restless backbenches.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that concern for European democracy is the preserve of conservatives. Indeed, those who support the European project, as we do, ought to be the most vocal in their opposition to anything that remotely resembles a stitch up.

David Cameron may have lost the battle with Europe over Juncker, but on the point of principle he is correct: Juncker has no popular mandate to assume the European presidency. Below are just a few reasons why:

Only one in 10 Europeans even know who Jean Claude Juncker is

This shows up for what it is the claim that Juncker has a popular mandate simply because the voters in the recent European elections voted for the European People’s Party, whose candidate for the top job is Juncker. A popular mandate requires that people actually understand what it is they are voting for. Only one in 10 Europeans even know who Jean Claude Juncker is. This is not democracy; as David Cameron recognises.

Britain is also much more likely to leave the EU in the next parliament with Juncker as President of the Commission. This is why anti-European politicians are warming to the idea of a Juncker presidency. ‘More of the same’ is not palatable to most British people. It shouldn’t be tolerated by the left, either.

It isn’t right-wing to worry about this

Just because someone we don’t like thinks something that doesn’t automatically mean said person is wrong. This should be obvious, but often it needs saying. David Cameron is right about Jean Claude Juncker for the wrong reasons. The problem isn’t that Juncker wants an ‘ever closer union’, it’s that Juncker is being shoehorned into the top job via undemocratic means.

This isn’t democracy

Juncker is the European People’s Party (EPP) choice for President of the European Commission, and the EPP emerged as the largest bloc from the European elections last month. So, as the nomination of the largest bloc, Juncker has every right to assume the presidency, right?

In reality things are a lot more complicated. For one thing it is a fantasy to pretend that the European Parliament is more democratic than the European Council, which is made up of elected heads of government. As the Economist puts it, voters “treat European elections as second-order national polls. In every single EU country, turnout is much higher in national elections…By insisting that it will block anybody other than Mr Juncker, the parliament is trying to deny the European Council its prerogative”.

He’s no one’s choice and doesn’t appear to particularly want the job

Most EU leaders consider Juncker a poor choice for the Presidency. He has a reputation as an out of touch bureaucrat for a very good reason, and his only real political achievement to date has been to cling to power in a country that has built a reputation as the EU’s top tax haven. Juncker himself is even rumoured to prefer the job of President of the European Council. He’s the establishment conpromise, and progressives ought to be careful about rushing in to defend any status quo, let along the European one.

Follow James Bloodworth on Twitter

This entry was posted in Good Society and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • JoeDM

    Just goes to show how right UKIP are on the EU !!!

  • swatnan

    Thats not how the EU works. Now, if you want a proper Federally Constituted Europe then we can have elected officials and accountability. I can see that a Federal States of Europe is the only answer in a worldwide context. UKIP have no solutions to anything and are irrelevant to the debate.

  • Cole

    Seems a bit odd the parliament doesn’t select the President. Why did we bother to vote last month? All this Economist stuff about heads of government being more democratic is pretty specious and the sort of rubbish you’d expect from a right wing rag. I’ve no view on Junker, but think a some proper democracy might not be amiss.

  • Cole

    Doesn’t show anything of the sort. A bit like saying parliament should be abolish because it doesn’t work very well. Anyway, the Ukip Meps do very nicely out of the EU, though they rarely turn up to work.

  • Selohesra

    If getting Juncker hastens our exit from the EU then I’m all for him

  • Leon Wolfeson

    The position…isn’t a popular position. I don’t see why that’s relevant.
    And that you see elected representatives being decently democratic as a “fantasy”…erm,,,

    “country that has built a reputation as the EU’s top tax haven”

    What, he’s British?!

  • Leon Wolfeson

    His appointment, and indeed the commissions, is indeed subject to vote by the EU Parliament. In fact, Lisbon expanded the Parliament’s role there.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, they are on the right, an isolated voice which weakens UK influence, and they’ll slurp the cash without doing the job (again).

    Sorry, you were saying something?

  • Bert3000

    Got to the bottom and realised it was the same idiotic article as has just appeared on the Guardian website. It’s utter rubbish here as well.

  • Zool

    What influence is that then, when its 27 v 1 you have no influence unless as the Polish VP said you give them a boat load of Gold. Please show us real world examples where this influence is beacse Britain has lost every single dispute with the EU its ever had. It’s currently 55-0 to the EU or the Eurozone as it should be called.

  • Zool

    Farage must think its Christmas & his birthday all rolled into one. What a gift for UKIP.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Only because Cameron manages to isolate the UK on everything.

    But that’s not the case in which I’m taking about – I’m talking about the way which the UK’s right wing political parties insist in sitting in minor bloc’s, with extreme parties, isolating themselves from the political process in the EU Parliament.

    Your persecution complex would simply switch to other excuses if you managed to isolate the UK from the EU, as it is named.

  • https://mikestallard.virtualgallery.com/ Mike Stallard

    UKIP says it wants us to walk out of Europe. Without simply breaking a Treaty (of Lisbon) we cannot. The small print in Article 50 prevents that. The President of the Commission plays a key part in deciding whether or not we can leave.

    On the other hand we cannot remain unless we really do want to become part of a vast country called Europe with one flag, one elected President, one Commission and one National Anthem. One Euro for everyone is the aim of the current President of the Commission. England would be divided into regions and Scotland would be another region. One overall budget would see the end of our independence.

    What we need is to remain in the Common Market (EFTA) and to leave the EU (join EEC). Why doesn’t the left go for that eminently sensible solution?

  • robertcp

    I agree. The European Parliament has proposed a candidate and the elected leaders of member states have endorsed that choice, which seems reasonably democratic. Regarding Juncker being the choice of the EPP, it seems reasonable for the biggest group to propose the President of the Commission. I assume that the EPP would support a liberal, socialist or green candidate if she or he was in the biggest group.
    I have always been unenthusiastically in favour of the UK’s memberships of the EU. It seems that having strong views either way results in nonsense like the above article.

  • derekemery

    If I want to drink tea but the rest of the EU are coffee drinkers and this is put to the EU vote it means I have to become a coffee drinker. That’s how EU democracy works. Your choice or wants and needs counts for nothing.

  • Dougie

    Sorry, you’re just plain wrong. Cameron is just the latest in an unbroken line of UK PMs who have had no influence in the EU. Remember Blair, who set out to put us “at the heart of Europe”? He gave up part of the UK rebate in exchange for an agreement to reform the CAP. He hadn’t even left the room before Chirac had laughingly dismissed him as a fool and torn up the paper the agreement wasn’t written on.

  • chudsmania

    Yep , some influence eh ? It makes me wonder why some European countries have such short memories. If not for us , some of them would have been under the jackboot for quite a while longer , and their offspring might not even be alive today.

  • morbidfascination

    “The small print in Article 50 prevents that. The President of the Commission plays a key part in deciding whether or not we can leave.”
    I don’t understand why you say this. The text sets a default period of 2 years for automatic leaving, and any extension can only be by agreement with the leaving country.

  • A Ka

    :-) No marketing tool could have been more efficient for UKIP. The EU is the best UKIP promotional tool, and there methods of the EU leadership are excellent mainstream media fodder and thus helpful to the cause of UKIP. Other European eurosceptic followers will read this news and eurosceptism will flourish.

  • https://mikestallard.virtualgallery.com/ Mike Stallard

    “3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

    “4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.”

    It is actually pretty vague. And vagueness means that it can be interpreted…

  • wj

    I’m afraid that Mr Bloodworth appears to be trying to flatten down a very bumpy mattress in the above contribution.

    For a start I can not even begin to believe that 1 in 10 Europeans have any idea who Juncker is.

    And if the author is for the “European Project” he is indeed for the “stitch up” – when has the
    European Union ever done anything other than “via undemocratic means”

    The Project is for “ever closer union” – it doesn’t matter what the people think; the political elite choose the destination, they choose the means and direction of travel – all that
    is left to do is to cram the once-sovereign populations onto the trains.

    Why doesn’t the author question the legitimacy of the Lisbon Treaty that gave the EU parliament its supposed new powers – only 4 million people out of 500 million were allowed a
    say on that.

    It seems to me that Mr Bloodworth only questions democratic legitimacy when the rooster on top of the EU dung heap is not to his liking

  • Cole

    Quite. And Cameron seemed a bit hazy on this important detail. He seems to think he was more democratically elected than the EU parliament.

  • http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com Jim Denham

    You’re badly wrong on this, James: exactly what *are* the “reforms” that Cameron claims Juncker is an obstacle to? De-regulation, repeal of employment protection legislation, etc, etc…

    The left should be pro=Frederalist, and take a lead on it, instead of pathetically tailing the Tories (or, in the case of the Stalinists, tailing UKIP).

    There’s nothing democratic abnout Cameron’s stance: the European Parliament majority voted for Juncker. It would have been good to have had a social-democratic alternative candidate, but there wasn’t one (why not?).

    Labour’s support for Cameron over this is a disgrace. My opinion:

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/why-the-f-is-labour-backing-camerons-eu-posturing/

  • http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com Jim Denham

    You’re badly wrong on this, James: exactly what *are* the “reforms” that Cameron claims Juncker is an obstacle to? De-regulation, repeal of employment protection legislation, etc, etc…

    The left should be pro=Frederalist, and take a lead on it, instead of pathetically tailing the Tories (or, in the case of the Stalinists, tailing UKIP).

    There’s nothing democratic abnout Cameron’s stance: the European Parliament majority voted for Juncker. It would have been good to have had a social-democratic alternative candidate, but there wasn’t one (why not?).

    Labour’s support for Cameron over this is a disgrace. My opinion:

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/why-the-f-is-labour-backing-camerons-eu-posturing/

  • Leon Wolfeson

    EFTA really *does* entail a massive sacrifice of sovereinty, having to follow a vast proportion of EU law without having any say whatsoever in setting them. Then there’s the fact that you have to pay the EU for it (and get no funds back), the fact you only get market access to the EU and not the further treaties, so we’d lose a massive amount of trade anyway…

    We’d have to end the WTD out-out entirely, join Schengen…

    Why would the left support that kind of thing? Why do you?

  • Leon Wolfeson

    No, that’s your ridiculous prohibitionist views, and your projection of them.

    What actually happens is called “democracy”.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, so to you democracy is a terrible thing your UKIP will work against, noted. Democracy helps you fight against in in your world, I see. And people who are convinced about isolationism will be isolationist, and try and make the UK wither. Same old, same old.

    This *article* is UKIP fodder, no more.

  • Guest

    Yes, you can’t wait to get the jackboots back here, and to launch that war eh?

  • Leon Wolfeson

    …It’s not a popular position.

    Keep saying that democracy is undemocratic, that despite the fact your agenda is well-represented (although you might ask the UKIP MEP’s to do some work), you keep throwing tantrums simply because you’re not getting your way, as a distinct minority with a radical agenda,

    Why doesn’t the author bitterly oppose democracy like you, as you make up nonsense and deny general elections occur in every EU state…even Bloodworth’s UKIP propaganda is not extreme enough for you!

    Really, it’s transparent that your enemy is democracy, since it won’t vote the way you demand it does. Lisbon expanded democracy in the EU…hence your hate. Keep saying that the UK, a EU member is a dung heap though.

  • A Ka

    What a ridiculous comment Leon. Direct democracy is the best in the world. Countries like Switzerland and Norway have very high GDP and very high happiness ratings from the people. Switzerland is not in the EU because their people were allowed referendums on whether to join or not. The UK has not dropped the Pound for the Euro because even Blair was not confident enough in financial union to force it in. Britain has never been isolationalist. Many countries have benefitted from the systems of gvnt Britain left with ex-Empire countries post colonialism. The current problems with financial system are due to US style capitalism not the British way. Both the Great depression and Great rcession were due to dubious financial practices in the US. Even Robert Peston has written of this. Democracy, when not abused by a few vested interest parties, such as New Labour, New Tories and New Liberals is an excellent system. But direct democracy is the most democratic system in actual use in the world, it frightens the three main parties since implementing direct democracy allows to much say from the general public. I expect that you want to keep the two party system that has put off voters for years to be kept don’t you Leon?

  • wj

    How can a treaty which nobody was allowed a say, a replacement for an EU Constitution that everybody was promised a vote on, be an expansion of democracy?

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Keep on denying national elections. And the EU Parliament.

    All that democracy which you ignore. Your agenda is clear.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    So why do you hate democracy so much?

    You, as you note, are entirely out of the British mainstream with your Isolationism, and you very strongly support a banker-lead party. That you call British democracy “abuse” transparently gives away your agenda against it. Your call for mobocracy is just that.

    And you’re talking to someone who constantly supports voting reform to a PR-based system as THE key primary reform this country needs. (Feel free to check my post record! I’ve mentioned Germany’s as a system I’d copy…)

    This is not the same as the mobocracy you call for.

  • wj

    And you keep on ignoring my question – why, when we were all promised a vote on the EU constitution, and when that constitution failed and it was replaced by the Lisbon Treaty – why did we not get to vote on it.
    The Lisbon Treaty created large and expensive bodies that the working tax payer has to pay for – and they had no say on those bodies.
    Please don’t tell me it is democratic – it is not.

  • A Ka

    Of course I am wrong about everything – obviously the planet is flat, which is how you still think of it Leon. :-)

    The quality of your extremely numerous posts displays an angry person who is in need of some assistance. Germany has many health resorts provided for residents such as yourself. Bit of yoga and no more digital interaction would probably calm you down a tad ole boy

  • bootsyjam

    you do know that Juncker was PM of Luxembourg from 1995-2013? Do you know the tax dodging multi national corporations base their businesses in order to dodge paying tax? Go on-have a guess. So that’s ok with you is it.

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Ah, magical internet mental health diagnosis, as you demand I think of the planet as you do.

    Of course you’d bang me up in a mental health institution, just like your fellow far right wingers. You’re just another totalitarian troll I see, here to try and make excuses for your extremism, promoting hate..

  • Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, I know you deny democracy, and don’t believe that elections are held in EU countries.

    Different treaty, one without a substantial part of the added democracy, and you oppose the added democracy left in Lisbon, of course. I understand perfectly.

  • wj

    Eh?????

  • Leon Wolfeson

    English.

  • YouGov Tracker

  • Touchstone Economic Tracker

  • Best of the web

  • Archive