2 March 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt will lead his Flemish liberal party (VLD) into this year’s elections to the European Parliament, the VLD said on Tuesday.
Belgian Members of the European Parliament will be elected by proportional representation using a ‘party list’ system and Verhofstadt will head the VLD’s list of candidates.
This means that he will be the first member of his party to be made an MEP if the VLD wins any seats in the European assembly.
In reality, however, Verhofstadt is unlikely to take up an MEPs seat if he wins one. He will almost certainly hand over the position to his official deputy on the list, Dirk Sterckx, the VLD’s recently appointed interim President.
The practice of heading up party lists with political big hitters who everyone knows will not take up their European Parliamentary duties if elected has been widely criticised.
Detractors say the system – often described in EU circles as selecting a ‘locomotive’ to pull the party train – gives the impression that big politicians do not take the EU’s only directly elected assembly seriously.
The European elections will take place in June this year.
All EU citizens living in Belgium have the right to vote in the poll.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news