EU member states have until 31 July to present their nominations for commissioner in the next European Commission. Just days before the deadline, it seems that Juncker’s call for more female candidates has fallen on deaf ears. EurActiv France gives an overview of the issue of gender balance and political parity between men and women in the executive.

Failure to increase the number of women in the European Commission is a recurrent theme. In 2009, the number of women presented for José Manuel Barroso’s second Commission fell compared to the number of women in his first Commission. He emphasised the importance of nominating women to the Commission, and eventually managed to secure nine female commissioners, just a third of the executive.

Gender balance has also become a problem for Jean-Claude Juncker. In an attempt to attract more female candidates, he promised a big portfolio or vice-presidency to big member-states that presented an official female candidate.

During his electoral campaign, Juncker promised that 40% of his Commission would be women.

Despite this, the number of female candidates remains low. So far, just two countries have presented a female official candidate; the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

INFOGRAPHIC: Whos who in the new European Commission? on Euractiv

Male hegemony

All the presidents of the Commission have been men, from Walter Hallstein in 1958 to Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014.

The first female commissioners were in Jacques Delors’ Commission in 1989; France’s Christiane Scrivener and Greece’s Vasso Papandreou. They held the taxation and customs union portfolio and employment industrial relations and social affairs portfolio respectively.

In 1995, the Santer Commission had 18 commissioners for 15 member states. France, the UK and Germany each had two commissioners. The number of women increased to five; France’s Edith Cresson (research, innovation and science), Italy’s Emma Bonina (consumer policy, fisheries and ECHO), Denmark’s Ritt Bjerregaard (environment and nuclear security), Germany’s Monika Wulf-Mathies (regional policy) and Sweden’s Anita Gradin (immigration, justice and home affairs).

In the Prodi Commission (1999-2004), the number of women increased to 25%, with female commissioners for Spain, Greece, Luxembourg and Sweden.

After the 2004 enlargement of the EU, many Eastern Europe countries wanted to set a good example by sending women to the Commission, including Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

In Commission Barroso I (2004-2009), there were eight female commissioners. Ten women were part of the Commission following the 2007 enlargement which saw Bulgaria and Romania join the EU. Sweden, Luxembourg, Poland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Cyprus, the UK and Bulgaria all had female commissioners.

Role models and problem children

Sweden has long been an example for the rest. It has sent three female commissioners since it joined the EU in 1995. Denmark and Luxembourg also stand out with two female commissioners, where big member states like Italy, the UK and Spain have had one female commissioner each.

Some new member states, like Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania, have already had two women representatives in the Commission.

Although France set the trend in the 1990s by nominated two women in a row, it has failed to have a female commissioner since. It is not likely to present a woman for Juncker’s new Commission, as all bets are on Pierre Moscovici, France’s former minister of the economy.

“We also believe in the necessity for parity, but this does not mean that it should affect the French commissioner,’ said the French presidential palace, adding that twelve countries have yet to nominate a woman to represent them in the European executive body.

France cannot completely exempt itself from this responsibility by shifting it to other countries like Belgium, Portugal and Finland, who have never had female commissioners. “France has still not nominated a woman since 1999,” a source in Brussels pointed out.

Although France has sent two women to the Commission, it is not a huge number considering big member states (France, the UK and Germany) used to be able to nominate two commissioners.

EU Commission not alone

In 2012, the Commission adopted a Women’s Charter, and promised to make “all efforts in order to improve gender balance within the Commission.”

The Commission is not the only European institution struggling to achieve parity. Between 2009 and 2014, only 35% of representatives in the European Parliament were women. For this term, it increased to 37% of MEPs, which is still below par.

Top-jobs in the Parliament also tend to go to men. Just two of the seven chairs of parliamentary committees are held by women for this term. There are five female vice-presidents, compared to nine male vice-presidents.

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Among the many features common to Greece and Ireland is the growth and decline of a political party which was central to the country’s life for many decades: Pasok and Fianna Fáil.

Almost all of Greece is a closed shop, and politics is no exception. The politikos kosmos is the term for the elite ranks, mostly middle-class professionals (lawyers, economists and professors), at the centre of power. In the 20th century three family dynasties held most of the power.

The most prominent of these are the Papandreous, three generations of whom have held the premiership: George the first (1944-5, 1963 and 1964-5), his son Andreas, the founder of Pasok (1981-9 and 1993-6) and his grandson, George the second (2009-11). Pasok (Pan Hellenic Socialist Movement), founded in 1974, has been in single-party government for 22 of the past 31 years, and a further two years in the current coalition.

George the first was in many ways the saviour of modern Greece, holding together a government of national unity in exile during the second World War. He promulgated the principles of Democratic Socialism based on “Nation, Liberty and Social Justice”.

Post-truth party

The Greek word for “truth” is alethia – meaning, “no forgetting”. So “truth” requires memory, and memory, for Greeks, is even more painful than it is for the Irish. You cannot afford truth or memory if they stand in the way of expedience. Pasok, having condoned deliberate obfuscation and mis-statements on the country’s economic situation, is today labelled “a post-truth party”.

The fact that, under the military junta (1967-74), George the first was held (and died) under house arrest and that Andreas was forced into exile in the US, raised veneration of the family into sainthood. This obscured the fact that the Papandreous, as defenders of democracy, were in fact creating a state that turned democracy on its head.

Andreas and George the second were the victims of history: Andreas’s marriage to an American, his exile and, as a consequence, his son’s upbringing outside Greece, have made many Greeks suspicious of their bona fides. The left, in particular, brands young George as American rather than Greek which is not helped by his less-than-perfect command of the Greek language.

In founding Pasok after the fall of the junta, Andreas had two imperatives: to heal the wounds caused by the civil war and the junta, and to raise standards and conditions of living, especially in rural areas. Return to democracy, index- linked to a rosy future, was music to Greek ears.

Andreas’s strategy was brilliant and unique in Greek political life: a “contract with the people”. He created nationwide grassroots cumanns which made Pasok, and himself, synonymous with the state – paternalist and clientelist: a social transformation, including eradication of privilege, healthcare, social insurance, equal pay for women, with EU membership bringing agricultural subsidies.

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Ανάμεσα στα πολλά χαρακτηριστικά που είναι κοινά στην Ελλάδα και την Ιρλανδία είναι η ανάπτυξη και η παρακμή των πολιτικών κομμάτων που ήταν στο επίκεντρο της ζωής των χωρών για πολλές δεκαετίες: το ΠΑΣΟΚ και το Fianna Fail ακολούθησαν την ίδια πορεία.

Το αφιέρωμα της ιρλανδικής Irish Times στην κρίση που «χτύπησε» την Ελλάδα, τούτη τη φορά επικεντρώνεται σε μια οικογένεια: την οικογένεια Παπανδρέου. Τη στιγμή που σε κάθε σπίτι υπάρχει ένα… θύμα της κρίσης, ο πολιτικός κόσμος δεν θα μπορούσε να μείνει ανέπαφος. Άλλωστε οι περισσότεροι εξ αυτών ανήκουν στην πολιτική ελίτ και είναι επαγγελματίες του είδους. Η εφημερίδα σημειώνει πως στην Ελλάδα υπάρχει μια οικογένεια που μεταξύ τριών γενεών έπαιξε καθοριστικό ρόλο στην πορεία της χώρας.

Ο Γεώργιος Παπανδρέου, κατά μια έννοια, ήταν ο σωτήρας της σύγχρονης Ελλάδας

Από τον Γεώργιο Παπανδρέου, τον επονομαζόμενο «Γέρο της Δημοκρατίας», στον Ανδρέα Παπανδρέου και τέλος στον Γιώργο Παπανδρέου που έπεσε μέσα στο πηγάδι της κρίσης. Ο πρώτος, σημειώνει ο αρθρογράφος, κατά μία έννοια ήταν ο σωτήρας της σύγχρονης Ελλάδας. Διέδωσε τις αρχές του Δημοκρατικού Σοσιαλισμού που είχαν ως βάση το τρίπτυχο: «Έθνος, Ελευθερία και κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη».

Το γεγονός ότι ο Γεώργιος Παπανδρέου βρισκόταν σε κατ’ οίκον περιορισμό από την Χούντα και ο θάνατός του μετατράπηκε σε λαϊκό προσκύνημα, αυτομάτως «έντυσε» την οικογένεια με μια χροιά αγιοσύνης. Τούτο, όμως, επικάλυψε πολλά από τα σφάλματα του Γεώργιου Παπανδρέου.
«Θύματα» της Ιστορίας ήταν ο Ανδρέας Παπανδρέου και ο εγγονός Γιώργος Παπανδρέου, καθώς αναγκάστηκαν να φύγουν από την Ελλάδα λόγω της δικτατορίας, κάτι που στη συνέχεια έχει δεκτό με σκεπτικισμό από πολλούς και κυρίως από την Αριστερά.

Πατερναλιστής ο Ανδρέας

Μετά την πτώση της χούντας, με την ίδρυση του ΠΑΣΟΚ, ο Ανδρέας είχε δύο επιταγές: να επουλωθούν οι πληγές που προκλήθηκαν από τον εμφύλιο πόλεμο και την χούντα και να αυξήσει τα πρότυπα και τις συνθήκες διαβίωσης, ιδιαίτερα στις αγροτικές περιοχές.

Ο Ανδρέας ήταν αυτός που μίλησε για συμβόλαιο με τον λαό, αλλά ταυτόχρονα δημιούργησε ένα πατερναλιστικό, πελατειακό κράτος, παράλληλα με τον κοινωνικό μετασχηματισμό, την ισότητα και τις ίσες ευκαιρίες σε όλους.

Το ΠΑΣΟΚ στηρίχθηκε σε αυτές τις λαϊκές ψήφους, ενθάρρυνε την εξάρτηση από το σύστημα, ανέσυρε το σύνθημα «προνόμια για όλους», αλλά την ίδια στιγμή τα δημοσιονομικά ελλείμματα και η ψεύτικη ευημερία εξασφάλιζαν ειρήνη φτιαγμένη από… φοροδιαφυγή, νεποτισμό και υπέρογκο δημόσιο τομέα.

Ο αρθρογράφος εξηγεί πώς κάτω από τις τωρινές συνθήκες το τωρινό ΠΑΣΟΚ κατρακυλάει σε ποσοστά; Δίνει την απάντηση ο ίδιος: οι ψηφοφόροι του ΠΑΣΟΚ του γύρισαν την πλάτη, αηδιασμένοι από το γεγονός ότι δεν μπόρεσε να τους βοηθήσει να ξεπεράσουν την τρέχουσα κρίση.

Όταν ο τρίτος Παπανδρέου, ο Γεώργιος, ανέλαβε την ηγεσία του ΠΑΣΟΚ, σχεδόν ελέω θεού, προσπάθησε να κινηθεί ανάμεσα στην παράδοση και τη νεωτερικότητα. Στο εσωτερικό του κόμματος, υπήρχαν μεταρρυθμιστές, όπως ήταν άλλωστε και ο ίδιος που ήθελαν να φέρουν το ΠΑΣΟΚ πιο κοντά στους Έλληνες του σήμερα, αλλά συνυπήρχε και η παλιά φρουρά που θεωρούσε το πελατειακό μοντέλο τόσο ιερό, όσο το όνομα Παπανδρέου.

Ο ΓΙώργος Παπανδρέου δεν διέθετε ηγετικές αρετές

Ο Γιώργος είχε αδυναμίες, δεν διέθετε τις ηγετικές αρετές σε τόσο δύσκολη περίοδο, η ηγεσία του ήταν ανιαρή, του άρεσε να διαβουλεύεται και να επηρεάζεται από τις απόψεις της Μέρκελ, εντέλει δεν είχε το ένστικτο του δολοφόνου που πρέπει να έχει κάθε πολιτικός σε τέτοιες δύσκολες συνθήκες.

Τελικά ακόμη και η χαρισματική οικογένεια, δεν μπόρεσε να εμποδίσει την έξοδο του από την πολιτική.

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