by Neil Madden
STRASBOURG, July 7 (Xinhua) -- As expected the eurosceptic group Europe of Freedom & Direct Democracy (EFDD) failed on Monday to win the chairmanship of the petitions committee of the European Parliament (EP).
EFDD, which is led by the UK's Nigel Farage and also includes the Italian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement, should have been awarded the chairmanship under the D'Hondt system, which is designed to award posts in proportion to the number of MEPs in each political grouping.
But an agreement between the three largest groups in the EP - - the European People's Party (EPP), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and the Liberal ALDE - resulted in a majority of the votes going instead to Cecilia Wikstrom, a Swedish ALDE MEP.
Moreover, the EFDD candidate, the Italian Eleonora Evi, was heavily outvoted for any of the four vice-chairman's positions, despite being nominated each time. She was defeated three times by EPP candidates and once by the S&D.
Evi said the agreement by the big three parties to block her election was tantamount to "killing democracy".
"Today the D'Hondt method was breached," she said. "I express my contempt for this stance as it only props up a self-serving oligarchic system. Why are we being punished like this and for what reasons?"
She was supported by Danish MEP Margrete Auken, of the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA), who issued an official statement at the weekend condemning the blocking move.
"It is perfectly acceptable to oppose an individual candidate, but I have never seen a committee opposing a whole political group," she said during the meeting. "This is contrary to the D'Hondt method and I really hope this will be the last time I hear of such a thing in this committee."
Wikstrom said in response that she would be an honest and fair chairperson, and, in a personal message to Evi, added: "I am sure we can all create an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust."
Later, EFDD co-president UK MEP Nigel Farage said: "The Federalist fanatics have shown their true anti-democratic colours. They hate scrutiny and opposition and therefore hate the EFDD Group with a passion - which I suppose, should make us proud.
The Europhile groups have again demonstrated their fear of democracy, their hatred of minority views, and their clear rejection of transparency. EU Federalists are a disgrace but the public should realise their views and their dirty dealings are emblematic of the European Parliament."
The other committee chairmanships were chosen as expected. Of the 20 standing and two subcommittees, seven each will be chaired by MEPs from the EPP and S&D, three by ALDE MEPs, two by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), two by the Greens/EFA, and one by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE).
In terms of country representation, Germany has the most chairmanships, five in total. Interestingly, the second highest representation is Poland, with four, followed by the UK and Italy (three each), and just two each for Spain and France. Sweden, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have one chair each.