Three Dutch parties have selected the heads of their lists for the European Parliament elections.

Sophie in ‘t Veld will lead the list for Democrats 66, which sits in the Liberal ALDE Group in the European Parliament. She won an internal election against fellow MEP Marietje Schaake by a margin of three to two. Around 20 per cent of D66 members voted. You can read our blog on the election here.

Members of Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) – which sits in the European People’s Party Group – chose Esther de Lange to head the party’s list. De Lange is 38 and first became an MEP in 2007. She defeated fellow MEP Wim van de Camp, taking just over 60 per cent of the vote.

Toine Manders, who had been an MEP for the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) from 1999 until last month, has been selected as head of the list for the 50PLUS party. Manders now sits as an independent member of the ALDE Group.

Meanwhile, the race to lead the Labour Party (PvdA) list for the elections is hotting up, with four candidates – Robbert Baruch, Bernard Naron, Zita Schellekens and Paul Tang – in the running. The selection process ends at the end of the month. The PvDA sits in the Socialists & Democrats Group.


Read more in Europe Decides Weekly, 31 October 2013

Top stories: 26-31 October 2013

  • Youth turnout at European elections is ‘alarmingly low’ and could get worse: In the 2009 European elections, only 70% of the European Union’s young people cast their vote. Fear of an even lower voter turnout among young people still looms as it could weaken the most ‘democratic of the European institutions’. Political parties in the EU must find ways to reinvent themselves in order to include young people in a long-term, sustained and productive dialogue to ensure that they remain engaged in mainstream politics. The Parliament Magazine
  • Will Eurosceptics be the big winners in the EU elections? Debating Europe, an online platform that facilitates discussion between policymakers in Europe and the citizens they represent, held a vote to get a better idea of how many of its readers intend to vote for a Eurosceptic party. While only 2.63% of its readers said they would support a Eurosceptic party in the European elections, some analysts believe that 30% of the vote in 2014 will be won by Eurosceptics. Debating Europe; BBC News; Voice of Russia
  • Merkel says EU vote not decisive on Commission President: In her first explicit reference to the appointment of the President of the European Commission, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was no automatic link between the winning party at the European elections and the future Commission president. Merkel’s statement is a reminder that EU leaders still want to call the shots on the designation of the Commission President. EU Observer; EurActiv; Europolitics; Policy Network; European Voice

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In case you missed it, you can now find on the Europe Decides website…

…a guide to the main pan-European political parties and how they will select a common candidate for the presidency of the European Commission

…information on each EU member state, including MEPs, commissioners, members of the European Council and Burson-Marsteller offices

profiles of contenders for the top jobs in the EU next year

…analysis on how two Dutch MEPs are blazing a trail in digital campaigning and on how shale gas may be a hot issue in the European Parliament elections campaign

…our Insight on the elections in the Czech Republic

…and for the latest updates, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter – @europedecides


The 2014 European Parliament elections will be ground-breaking in many ways – not least for the widespread use of social media and ‘primary’ elections to select candidates.

In the Netherlands, a small yet noteworthy intra-party campaign is currently taking place between two sitting MEPs. Marietje Schaake (@MarietjeSchaake) and Sophie in ‘t Veld (@SophieintVeld) are well-known for their prolific use of Twitter. Both are also mounting digital-led campaigns to persude members of their progressive liberal party Democrats 66 (D66) to back them as head of the party’s list (lijsttrekker) for next May’s election.

So how are they getting on? We’ve used several digital analysis tools – including Twitonomy – to crunch the data and find out how successful they have been in reaching supporters on Twitter and Facebook and via their campaign websites.

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Read our full election Insight (PDF)

Early elections in the Czech Republic have failed to resolve the country’s ongoing political crisis.

The polls, held more than four months after the fall of the centre-right government, saw the opposition Social Democrats remain the biggest single party in parliament, but with a much lower-than-expected share of the vote.

ANO 2011, a party led by the country’s second-richest person, finished in second place in its first ever general election, while the conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which had led the previous coalition, finished fifth, losing more than two-thirds of its seats in parliament.

Coalition talks will now begin, although the task has been complicated by a split in the Social Democrats following their disappointing showing. The political crisis seems set to continue, with possibly a fragile coalition or a new caretaker administration taking office.


To frack or not to frack?

The high cost of energy for consumers and businesses means that the issue of shale gas – and the controversial ‘fracking’ technique used to extract the gas – will be one that could feature high on the agenda in next year’s European Parliament elections.

Across Europe, high electricity prices are putting household budgets under strain and putting an additional burden on manufacturing and services.

It is a common European challenge, and one on which candidates in the elections will have to take a position: is the future of energy renewables, nuclear, shale gas, or a combination of these? What about energy efficiency, or ‘green taxes’? Should priority be given to environmental protection or economic growth?

Shale gas has seen a boom in the United States, where the price of electricity is a quarter of that in Europe. Some argue that for a strong economy, Europe should follow the American model – investigate and exploit its own indigenous shale gas resources, reduce prices, and kick-start the recovery.

However, it is not that simple, and the political challenges are multiple.

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According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, Angela Merkel is understood to informally support Martin Schulz‘s bid to be the next President of the European Commission.

According to the article she is prepared to offer informal support and sees Schulz as someone with whom she can work should the Party of European Socialists (PES) win the European Parliament elections. The article also indicates that Merkel wishes to strengthen the Commission’s powers and so would like to have someone at the head of the body with whom she has a good working relationship.

Der Spiegel adds that Merkel hopes Schulz will help ensure a more social approach to dealing with the crisis and thereby help Merkel to be seen as a more pro-European leader.

Her support of Martin Schulz is also used to explain her hesitation against nominating a common candidate for the European People’s Party.

The print edition of Der Spiegel is published today and the online version of the article (in English) is available here.

DE-primeMartin Schulz

Read more in Europe Decides Weekly, 25 October 2013

Top stories: 19-25 October 2013

  • Luxembourg elections: A bitter-sweet win for Juncker: Jean-Claude Juncker’s Christian Social People’s Party won the most seats in the Luxembourgian parliamentary elections, but are set to enter opposition as the Socialists, Liberals and Greens negotiate a coalition. Juncker is the EU’s longest-serving head of government, having become Prime Minister in 1995. Euronews; BusinessWeek; Deutsche Welle; EPP; EPP; Europe Online Magazine; AECR Group; ALDE Party; European Greens; European Voice; EU Observer; EuroNews; Express; EurActiv
  • Le Pen launches plan to unite the far right: Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front said that the European Union will ‘collapse like the Soviet Union’. She made the remarks during the launch of her plan to unite far-right parties from across Europe ahead of the European Parliament elections. Le Pen argues that the return of national sovereignty is necessary because Europe has proven to be ‘anti-democratic’. EU Observer; The Province; EuroNews; Europolitics; Telegraph

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The European Green Party (EGP) has confirmed that six candidates will take part in the primary election to be lead candidate in next year’s European elections.

France’s José Bové, Italy’s Monica Frassoni, Germany’s Rebecca Harms and Ska Keller, Austria’s Ulrike Lunacek and the Netherlands’ Jolanda Verburg will now go forward to seek the support of Green member parties from across the EU.

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Read our full election Insight (PDF)

The Christian Social People’s Party of the Luxembourgian Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured), has won the parliamentary elections.

The centre-right party, known as the CSV, took more than a third of the vote in the early elections, which were called after a spying and wire-tapping scandal forced the resignation of the previous government.

However, the big winners of the election were the Democratic Party (DP), a Liberal party that saw its share of the vote rise by more than a fifth, to 18.3%.

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