Alain Lamassoure: Transnational lists – a crazy idea

European MP Alain Lamassoure attends a French right wing UMP's party day focused on defence in Paris, France, Wednesday 07 March 2007. [Melanie Frey/EPA]

The European conservatives are opposed to the project of transnational lists for the European elections, but risk losing during the vote on the matter on 6 February. Alain Lamassoure said in an interview with EURACTIV.fr

Alain Lamassoure is a European People’s Party (EPP) MEP. Having supported Alain Juppé during The Republicans’ primary elections, he left the right-wing party last October. He spoke with EURACTIV France Editor-in-Chief Aline Robert. 

Does the European People’s Party support Macron’s project of transnational lists for the next European elections in 2019?

No, the EPP is against it and will vote against it during the plenary session on 6 February. However, this will not stop the project as most of the other parties are for it. Ironically, even eurosceptics, who usually defend their nation, are for transnational lists. Because the more broader the lists, the more chances there are of having elected representatives.

Where does the idea of transnational lists come from?

It is quite a crazy idea, those transitional lists. It’s the mad idea of federalists who brought it forward 40 years ago at the European Parliament, the Parliament has since then, voted dozens of times on the subject. At the time, the European Parliament had no power, it was a way of making it visible. However, ever since the Lisbon Treaty, it now has real powers, especially when it comes to law-making, which reinforces the need for democratic control, and proximity to the elector.

Does this type of list exist elsewhere?

No other country, not even federal, has applied such a system, not the U.S, not Germany. The proportional voting system already alienates voters and their representatives in regards to local constituencies. Democratic logic wants that representatives are accountable to the voters who know them.  Therefore, having a national list, such as the one adopted in France for the European elections, that’s already a mistake. A transnational list that’s even worse.

Why is a national list a mistake according to you?

Well, because the potential candidates are already starting to lick the boots of party leaders in order to be on the 2019 lists. However, they should be campaigning locally, and be accountable to their voters and not to their party leaders. On a national list, taking right-wing parties, for example, we know that the first 20 candidates on the list will be elected.

What would work well is allowing the preferential vote to voters: so that they can rank their elected representatives as they please. This would force candidates to campaign harder in their region rather than to Laurent Wauquiez (leader of The Republicans) or Emmanuel Macron.

Do you think that transnational lists could see the day for the 2019 elections?

I think there is little chance! The European Parliament gives a non-binding advisory opinion, but then the electoral system needs to be changed, and this has to be done unanimously across the member states. I know that nowadays France is trying to convince smaller countries who are completely unfavourable to the idea, as they will never get any representatives elected on such lists seeing as their policies are hardly known.  Therefore, we would need to make concessions to Slovenia or Hungary in other areas, all for this fancy list? I find that inappropriate.

Realistically, there are no chances of making all the national parliaments vote on the subject, in such a short length of time.

Alain Juppé, who you supported during the presidential elections, is now siding with Macron for the European elections. What about you?

The idea of gathering people that support his European policies beyond party positions, for the European elections, seems very appropriate to me. And it is politically smart: these elections will happen in the middle of his mandate, the reforms that he will have implemented by then won’t be very popular. So, this Europe-wide recruitment is logical.

If so will you be a candidate?

I could have been, but I am turning 75 next year, so no. What is certain though is that I left The Republicans, and I am proud of it, it is from now on a moderate Eurosceptic party. Macron’s list makes more sense to the pro-European French right wing.

Reality catches up with Macron’s projects of European democracy

Citizen consultations, transnational lists: France is trying to carry out Macron’s project for Europe but ambition has been scaled down. EURACTIV France reports.