There are hopes that the troubled European Conservatives and Reformists Group may be entering some calmer waters after the election of a new group leader, announced a la mode, on Twitter on Tuesday evening. Czech MEP, Jan Zahradil, Civic Democratic Party (ODS) won the contest against two rivals.
The contest was, rather cruelly, described as between “The homophobe, the climate sceptic and the moderate” by left leaning weblogs.
In the end, the big losers were the Poles. Michal Kaminski’s leadership caused European Parliament Vice-President, Edward McMillan-Scott to denounce the Poles as extremists, a charge later repeated by Kaminski himself, who left the Law and Justice Party, claiming it had been taken over by extremists.
This charge gained weight when Ryszard Legutko MEP entered the contest, however, in a move that would be appreciated by the Vatican, he withdrew at the last minute.
The result of the vote was 36 for Zahradil, 18 for British Conservative, Timothy Kirkhope. This means that Kirkhope could not even get the support of all 25 of his countrymen. Tory eurosceptic MEP, Dan Hannan was quick to take the credit, writing on his weblog about the new leader, “I spent years persuading him to stand for the leadership”.
Kirkhope remains, as the British would say, ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’.
The leadership will, once again, be up for election in January next year. Until then, it is thought that the Czech will calm the atmosphere in the group. It can be no coincidence, that throughout the group’s troubles, Zahradil and the ODS have been the most discrete.