EPP, the first in the list of parties with criminal candidates in the elections for the European Parliament

George Marinescu
English Section / 30 mai

Photo source: facebook/EPP - European People's Party

Photo source: facebook/EPP - European People's Party

Versiunea în limba română

The European People's Party, with 104 candidates under criminal investigation or involved in various criminal scandals, of which 22 are in eligible seats, is at the top of the political formations with problems, according to an analysis published yesterday by journalists from Follow The Money regarding the candidates for the elections in June 6-9 for the European Parliament. The right-wing groups European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID) are in second and third place in the list of candidates, with 19 and 15 candidates, respectively.

Even the European socialists do not miss a place in this top, the cited source showing that the most controversial candidate is none other than the social democrat Dan Nica, who has been in the European Parliament since 2014. Follow the Money journalists remind that Dan Nica was investigated in one of the most notorious corruption cases in Romania, the Microsoft case, for abuse of office committed when he was the minister of communications between 2000 and 2004. The case was never tried in court because it was found in 2018 that the statute of limitations for criminal liability kicked in, and Nica denied all the charges.

And the Green group has several "black sheep", the most notorious being Lena Schilling, who would have given false testimony regarding the fact that a friend of hers would have been assaulted by her husband and who would have unfoundedly stated that she was harassed by various people.

According to the cited source, of the 472 candidates checked in 10 member states of the European Union, 86 would have integrity problems, and of these 62 would belong to the European right - EPP, ECR and ID, and one in five candidates, who have real chances to win a seat in the European Parliament, he was embroiled in a scandal at some point in his career. The cross-border investigation collected data from 10 EU countries, which together account for 413 of the 720 seats in the next European Parliament: Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia. The types of scandals that have been analyzed in relation to the verified MPs relate to corruption (both bribery and favouritism), fraud and theft of resources, conflict of interest, abuse of office, illegal provision of information, illegal spending of public resources.

According to experts contacted by the cited source, the above figures can be partly explained by the social stigma on which some right-wing parties rely, which has led to a greater number of less qualified people, but who are interested in running for Parliament European and therefore fewer people to choose these parties from. Another explanation is that these parties and their voters don't care that much about one's reputation.

Andrej Zaslove, associate professor of comparative politics at Radboud University in the Netherlands, said he was surprised by the number of candidates who end up back on the ballot despite their illegal or immoral behavior. He told the source quoted: "On the one hand, this tells me that it is very difficult to find candidates, but I also think that some of these people simply have a lot of power within such an organization of party and that they are therefore allowed to run again. Populists tend to view these kinds of issues differently, and so do their constituents. So what we see as wrong or an offense may not be perceived in that way by populist parties."

Dutch political scientist Sarah de Lange, from the University of Amsterdam, a specialist in analyzing populist political movements, said: "Some political parties are considered controversial in their country, and social stigma is a barricade to step forward as a candidate. It is also known for some parties that politicians will find it difficult to find a job after leaving a seat of Parliament representative. This is a real concern for people considering a candidacy. Their constituents are naturally skeptical of media reporting on these types of businesses. Some of these behaviors are even considered impressive because many of these voters are highly skeptical of government. They don't care so much if someone has been fined, for example for going way over the speed limit. They will be a little more relaxed about such illegal acts."

Despite the scandals regarding the current MEPs, the political parties do not want to part with them, so that 36 politicians are on an eligible place on the lists of candidates for the upcoming elections for the European Parliament. So, according to the quoted source, the road to the elections for the European Parliament in 2024 is paved with scandals, but right-wing and far-right parties in particular do not seem too concerned about putting on their voting lists candidates who have been accused or even convicted of defrauding public resources or taking bribes from third countries. Now it remains for the voters to decide who they trust the most to represent them for the next five years in Brussels.