Not sure politicians despised in home countries make best EU president candidates by mattsteinglass
October 7, 2009, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Europe, Netherlands

Matthew Yglesias is skeptical about the idea of Tony Blair as prospective EU President because he’s center-left while Europe is trending center-right:

Matthew Yglesias » Tony Blair for EU Prez? .

Instead he proposes the Netherlands’ Jan-Peter Balkenende.

I would have thought that one problem with Blair would have been that he remains widely despised in his own country, as the above article notes. And while Balkenende is an interesting possibility, I’d think that one problem would be that, as last week’s “Politieke Barometer” reported, “Vertrouwen in Balkenende heeft dieptepunt bereikt”. Viz, “Trust in Balkenende has reached its lowest point yet.” The center-right Christian Democrats have been running the Netherlands since 2002, but Balkenende now polls worse at a personal level than Labor leader (and coalition partner, and Finance Minister) Wouter Bos.

The Netherlands actually does have a long tradition of sending its former Prime Ministers and other top figures off to positions of international importance. Ruud Lubbers, for example, followed up his incredible 12-year stint as PM with 4 years as UN High Commissioner for Refugees. But when Lubbers left power it was as a widely respected and even somewhat beloved figure, known for his ability to wear down political opponents by regaling them at incredible length through hours-long meetings until they finally collapsed of boredom. I’d think that’s more the profile of the kind of person you should be promoting for EU, rather than former PMs who have lost favor in their home countries.


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In truth there’s no much difference between the British centre left and the centre right of mainland Europe. Despised? Not nearly so much as Gordon Brown is, that’s for sure.

Comment by foarp

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