The EU election last June was a surprise for many, as the Piratpartiet got a seat with over 7% of the votes. Then when the Lisbon Treaty passed and they were awarded a second seat in the European Parliament. However, it wasn’t without drawbacks as the second seat has yet to be filled. That may happen soon.
The rise of the Piratpartiet (Swedish Pirate Party) over recent years has been fairly meteoric. From zero January 1st 2006, to the third largest party by membership in mid 2009, it has seemingly tapped the political imagination of the youth in Sweden in recent years.
Nowhere else was that more apparent than in the June 2009 EU elections, when they carried a surprise 7.3% of the vote. This election result gave them one seat in the European Parliament.
The seat was taken by Christian Engstrom, (who also happens to have been the most popular MEP) with the potential for an additional seat if the Lisbon Treaty went through. The treaty passed in November 2009 and came into force as of December 1st 2009. The Piratpartiet were confirmed to have gained a second seat, which went to 22 year old Amelia Andersdotter, but several months later she still had not been able to take her seat.
Fast forward to August 2010 – almost 15 months after the election and 9 months after the ratification of the treaty – the EU is finally realizing that there are a number of Parliament Members that were elected, but never seated (Ghost MEPs). That may be about to change.
Ms. Andersdotter notes on her blog that she may soon be able to start representing her country, as she was elected to do. She just needs an ‘aye’ from the Council of Presidents (funnily enough, headed by the EU President, a position created by the same Treaty as Ms Andersdotter’s seat, but filled without either election or delay) to gain observer status, meaning they can do everything but vote. They get that ability when all nations approve the ‘transition protocols’. While the first vote could take place within 2 weeks time, the latter will probably take longer, especially as some countries (France) still haven’t assigned their extra MEPs.
A report in yesterday’s Times of Malta has put some doubt on the process though, as the EU is apparently strapped for cash and unable to afford the extra MEPs.
An EU parliamentary official told the Times, “Unfortunately, it seems the new MEPs, including the one from Malta, will not be able to join as observers this year because the EP has not allocated funds for this purpose in this year’s budget,” adding there may be some money to pay for the Ghost MEPs in the 2011 budget, but that it’s not been decided to invite them even then, so it’s not been allocated yet.
Then again, this is a body that was unable to pass a law banning 3-strikes laws, despite 88% support, so anything is possible.