Grassroots campaigners gather from all over Europe for Martin Schulz ‘first ever pan-European door-to-door canvassing planned’
300 Party of European Socialists (PES) activists and campaigners from all over Europe gathered in Paris today to kick off the Martin Schulz’s field organising campaign to become European Commission President.
Addressing the audience in a passionate speech,Martin Schulz told them that he was depending on their commitment to bring his message to thousands of doorsteps across the continent. “Your networks give you the knowledge of what the European Union means to people today. I depend on you to get our message across that together we can build a better Europe - a Europe based on job creation, and the needs of real people”.
The event, planned by PES Deputy General Secretary Marije Laffeber, was designed with the changes in the Lisbon Treaty in mind. The plan is that the PES Socialist and Social Democrat member parties form the biggest group in the European Parliament after the elections in May of next year. Under the new EU treaty provisions, this would give the Parliament the crucial say in who would become the next Commission President.
The 300 activists came from all 28 countries of the European Union, showing the growing grassroots groundswell of interest in the idea of a ‘Common Candidate’ for Commission President. They were trained by field organising experts on how to do door-to-door canvassing.Harlem Desir, PS first secretary who addressed the meeting in the afternoon, also reinforced the need for direct voter contact.
Zita Gurmai, the President of PES Women, stated that she was; "proud how much Martin Schulz was an active supporter of Women’s issues, and that he was fully committed to making gender equality central in EU policy making”.
The ‘Common Candidate’ idea, devised and promoted by the PES (Click here for Interactive Timeline), has already generated a lot of interest in Brussels and has forced the other political groupings to announce that they will also field candidates. However in some parties, notably the European Peoples Party, the idea has caused a lot of division with many reluctant to fully commit to the new democratic openness of the idea.
The preparation stage of the campaign will end at the PES Election Congress, which will take place in Rome on 1 March next year. This will mark the formal opening of this historic campaign to have a progressive, democratically accountable Commission President.