Libertas hires top US election campaigner


LIBERTAS HAS hired a leading US election campaigner to spearhead the party’s pan-EU fund-raising and European Parliament election campaign in June.

Party founder Declan Ganley made the announcement at the launch of Libertas Partei Deutschland in Berlin yesterday, which will field German candidates in the June poll.

“We have brought on board one of the world’s leading internet fundraising strategists . . . Joe Trippi. He did Howard Dean’s campaign from which the Obama campaign learned very much,” said Mr Ganley.

As well as Mr Dean’s 2004 campaign, Mr Trippi has advised Ted Kennedy and John Edwards in their presidential bids.

Mr Ganley added that the Libertas website will be overhauled to start a “major pan-European fund-raising drive . . . to raise funds for the pan-European campaign in full compliance with each of the member states”.

Launching the German Libertas party yesterday, Mr Ganley said he hoped it would help “re-ignite democracy in Europe”.

“Germany is perhaps the most important keystone of European democracy,” he said. “It is here in the end what will decide whether or not we enter into a post-democratic Europe.”

As in other countries where it has launched, Libertas says it wants to turn Germany’s European elections into an unofficial referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Germany is one of the countries yet to ratify the treaty: its highest court is expected to deliver its verdict in May on several constitutional challenges.

Mr Ganley said yesterday the Lisbon Treaty was “not a plot or grand conspiracy theory, but a series of bad decisions put into one pot, shaken up and poured out”.

The Lisbon Treaty would cement what he called the EU’s “anti- democratic” development.

“June is perhaps the only chance you’ll get to have a vote on this issue,” he said. “If Lisbon goes through I don’t know how it gets fixed up after this.”

German political analysts suggest the party urgently needs well-known German faces if it is to make an impression in June.

“If people weren’t currently distracted by the economic crisis, perhaps they would have had a chance of being noticed,” said Dominik Hierlemann, EU expert of the Bertelsmann Foundation. “Not least because the German EU consensus is not what it once was.”

In a five-and-a-half-page document, Libertas Deutschland introduced itself as a party of “traditional values and European goals like freedom, truthfulness, tolerance, common sense, family and human dignity”.

The party vowed to push for a simpler EU and an end to “secret lawmaking” in Brussels. A more detailed policy document is due before the end of March.

Asked how Libertas planned to make an impression on Germany’s political landscape, a party strategist said it was a “surprise”.

Another official said it was “too early to say” how many candidates Libertas would field in Germany.

The board members of Libertas Deutschland include Eva Schoeller, an Austrian project manager; Prof Horst-Richard Jekel, a Stuttgart consultant; and Carlos Gebauer, a writer, lawyer and actor in a fictional afternoon court show on German television.