ARCHIVE IMAGE: Europe's two main EU populist groups have been excluded from the upcoming debate with Ursula von der Leyen on the orders of the European Parliament, the European Broadcasting Union has claimed.

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Populists excluded from von der Leyen debate on European Parliament orders, broadcast union claims


Brussels’ two main populist factions have been excluded from an upcoming debate with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the orders of the European Parliament, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) claimed.

Both the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group and the Identity and Democracy (ID) group have been refused entry to the “Eurovision” debate on May 23 in the EP’s plenary chamber in Brussels, which will see the von der Leyen defend her mandate against challengers.

While the exclusion has caused outrage among right-wing politicians in Brussels, the EBU claimed it had no choice but to leave out both groups, as neither had formally appointed a spitzenkandidat — or lead candidate.

Despite the system not being officially recognised by the EU in any form, the EBU claimed it was clearly instructed by the EP to only invite such lead candidates, with no one else allowed to take part.

“As it was in both 2014 and 2019, the Eurovision Debate is a forum for lead candidates for the position of European Commission President under the European Parliament’s ‘Spitzenkandidat’ system,” a spokesman for the broadcasting union told Brussels Signal.

“The EBU’s agreement with the European Parliament is to produce a debate based on these principles.

“Two parties, the ECR and ID, declined to nominate a lead candidate and have therefore made themselves ineligible for this particular debate,” the spokesman added.

According to a report by Euronews, ID has already sent a letter of protest to EP President Roberta Metsola regarding the EBU’s rules, describing them as unfair.

The ID group has also accused other parties of having broken the rules of the unofficial spitzenkandidat system, with both the Liberals and Greens appointing more than one individual as a lead candidate.

The European Free Alliance (EFA) also complained about the debate format, as it cannot join the debate because it is paired with the Greens within the Parliament.

Since the Greens are being represented by Germany’s Terry Reintke, that leaves no space for the EFA themselves to attend, as both groups are being treated as a single entity.

“We want to express our deepest disappointment and unconformity with this decision. European democracy deserves more,” the faction said.

“By shutting the door on our participation, the EBU is not only silencing the voices of smaller parties but also undermining the principles of democracy and inclusivity.”