Libertas may raise €30m for election push, says Ganley


AS THE dawning of a new era goes, it was perhaps a little low key. Declan Ganley, the founder of the anti-Lisbon Treaty and now pan-European party,, arrived more than an hour late for his appointment in the Foreign Press Club in Rome yesterday. Not that it mattered – there were only half a dozen hacks waiting for him.

Mr Ganley is in Rome to attend his party’s first convention, due to be attended today by more than 1,000 delegates from all 27 EU member countries, delegates keen to “show their support for the Libertas message of democracy, accountability and transparency”.

“I’m here to present the Libertas strategy for Italy, ensuring that we have a list of candidates that the Italian people can vote for to ensure that their voice is heard by Brussels in a form that cannot be ignored by the European parliament, in this the first truly pan-European political party in history,” the affable Mr Ganley said.

Using an internet-based donations policy designed by US web guru Joe Trippi and modelled on that successfully developed by US president Barack Obama in his election campaign last year, Mr Ganley believes he may be able to raise as much as €30 million to finance his party’s campaign for next month’s European elections. He gave no other details of the party’s funding process.

Initial indications for the elections are good, he says, with the party’s own polls indicating massive support. The party’s website is the most visited political party site in Europe, more popular this week than those of the Republicans and Democrats in the US or of the ANC in election week in South Africa, he claims.

“Our key message is that the unelected and unaccountable elite in Brussels can no longer ignore the democratic will. We in Libertas are committedly pro-European. We believe in a strong, credible democratic European Union that has the capability to lead the world. We are very ambitious. We have a vision for the future of the European Union, a union that is united and that is built on the solid foundation of democratic accountability,” he said.

Paying tribute to the role of the European project in guaranteeing peace for the last 64 years in Europe, Mr Ganley said European ideals were currently threatened by complacency and by a “contempt for the democratic will”.

Proof of this, he argued, was the fact that three No votes in recent referendums in France, the Netherlands and Ireland had largely been ignored by a “Brussels elite” determined to carry on with business as usual.

Details of who will run for Libertas will be available today, but Mr Ganley confirmed he expected to field more than 160 candidates in 23 of the 27 EU member countries. If he can stimulate a turnout of 50 per cent or higher, he argues, Libertas might win a considerable number of seats.

Judged on the alliances Libertas has made in Italy, it would seem hard to predict the movement will do well here. Libertas will be running with L’Autonomia, a coalition of the extreme right La Destra, the pensioners’ party, the ex-Christian Democrat Alleanza Di Centro, and the Sicilian federalist MPA movement – all small parties unlikely to attract much support.

Mr Ganley chose to hold his party’s first convention in Rome because the city represents “not only the cradle of civilisation” but is where the 1957 founding treaty of the EEC was signed.