Only a few days ago, not much was known about parties and programs. Only the frontrunners were known. It is in the wake of the first debate, that suddenly all parties started to engage in a more sustained campaign, involving mainly images, and some videos. Only a few days ago, ECR revealed that they where behind the mysterious Panda EU Nancy account, which randomly posted weird pictures into the Campus group on Facebook. Even a first kind-of-scandal – a standoff between ECR and GUE/NGL – came around, and provoked a firm response from the electoral committee. It said in a statement: “Should any party break any of the rules of law or violate (human) rights, sanctions will, of course, follow.”
The debate was not for kittens as well, setting the stage for even more violent – and perhaps interesting – confrontations in the coming weeks. In front of a rather small though very interested audience, the contesting parties answered questions from the presenter, as well as from the crowd. First ideological proximities became clear, as EFD frequently joined ECR for applause. Though. EFD also joined GUE/NGL, which is on the opposite of the political spectrum, for their proposal to recreate all EU treaties, shouting “union des extremes”, while clapping hands. What a show! Even EPP somehow joined ALDE, publicly approving a say by an ALDE representative in the public that “it’s ALDE which has the ideas.”
The group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) argued, that fiscal affairs should remain national, a view which has gained support on the far right. The ECR Front Runner Jani Erkkilä said after the debate that the event has been “interesting, though I wished more time would be given to normal parties.” He further said: “EFD and Nordic Leftists do not really represent all European people.”
“We have views that may provoke, but I think it’s the ideas that matter”, said one member of EFD after the debate, adding: “we believe in the common sense of the citizens.”
The European Peoples Party (EPP), and their front runners Clarisse Geier and Laura Metzler, argued that there should be “fiscal rules” within the Eurozone, but “even countries which do not have the Euro should have their say.”
Pavel Afanasiev, Front Runner of the Alliance of Liberal Democrats (ALDE) responded, saying that a “segregation of the Eurozone is not a solution.” The EU should rather give herself up to “less restrictions” to “encourage growth.”
EPP later also spoke out against an accession of Turkey to the EU, even though they said themselves to be “open to new ideas” – whatever this means in this context.
The Social & Democrats (S&D) group, with front runner Gaspard Romeuf, asked for economic sanctions to be applied to Russia, a theme on which other parties have been reluctant. “The EU should reaffirm its values and its commitment to international law and the integrity of frontiers”, M Romeuf said. Later, he refused to stand out against austerity measures, saying that they “have permitted to save Europe from the crisis.” He prefers to say that those measures have “broken the Unions democratic legitimacy.”
The European Greens, and their front runner Anais Andrä, spoke out against the Hydraulic Fracturation technique, also known as “fracking”. They also asked for more regulations, as well as Eurobonds. “Together with reforms, they are efficient”, Ms Andrä said. She also made clear her party’s position in favour of “more women in higher positions”, as well as generally “for real Green growth.” “What we see today is fake Green growth”, she said.
The European left wing GUE/NGL, and its front runners Audrey Girard, advocated a “common exterior politic for the EU” and spoke out against an “unjust Europe”. Additionally, M Girard said: “we created the crisis together, so why should we resolve it on our own.” Nevertheless, when asked on concrete measures, both representatives of the GUE/NGL hesitated for a while, what could be interpreted as a sign of insufficient preparation on key questions.
In the question-answer game, S&D reaffirmed its will for an “European New Deal”, though admitting that the party “always supported fiscal discipline.” Concretely, S&D only comes up with some “symbolic measures”. The campaign might give more insight, especially as there has been no preliminary communication by the S&D group. The group later asked for an interruption of the negotiations with the United States on the Free Trade Agreement, considering recent scandals.
M Romeuf later said he was “satisfied of having defended a social democratic ideal for Europe.”
M Afanasiev, from ALDE, said the debate “could have been longer”, and that there “should have been more public.” “We need more citizens”, he said, adding that he was “pretty sure” to “win the elections”.
“The debate went very well, a few more people would have been better”, a member of the electoral committee said, off the record. Some 100 creped have been made during the evening, as sweet desert to the Chilly con Carne.
As parties and candidates seem to follow the spicy path of the Chilly con Carne, it’s now for the public to engage in the campaign, showing that they can be more than a small, thin, sweet-sugar crêpe audience.
"As parties and candidates seem to follow the spicy path of the Chilly con Carne, it’s now for the public to engage in the campaign."