Press play to listen to this article
DUBLIN — French President Emmanuel Macron’s party has proposed creating a new pan-European centrist alliance, party officials told POLITICO.
The initiative would combine Macron’s Renaissance alliance and other parties with the longstanding Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party, which is currently holding a congress in Dublin.
If the move goes ahead, it would increase Macron’s influence in European politics and effectively mean the end of ALDE, which was founded more than 40 years ago, as a separate entity.
Macron’s alliance and ALDE MEPs already form a group in the European Parliament, under the name of Renew Europe, but the proposal would create a Continent-wide umbrella party.
The proposal was included in a letter signed by Stéphane Séjourné, the leader of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament and a close Macron ally, as well as Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and new Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob, officials said. The letter was addressed to Timmy Dooley and Ilhan Kyuchyuk, the co-leaders of ALDE.
“The new alliance should provide a larger framework than ALDE,” a Renew Europe official said. “ALDE is liberal at its core and we want to build from that legacy but we can do something broader,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the politically sensitive proposal.
Asked about the new initiative, Séjourné declined to comment on specifics. But he made clear Renaissance was interested in being part of a bigger force with ALDE.
“We must make sure that what has been built so far and all these political movements are added value for everyone because we are present in many countries,” Séjourné said.
“Indeed, there will be a single entity at the end,” he predicted. But he added: “I am not going to pre-empt what it is.”
ALDE represents more than 70 liberal parties across Europe. It got a boost in Dublin on Thursday when it welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party into its ranks.
But at the European Parliament, Macron’s Renaissance is bigger than any of the ALDE parties and is the pre-eminent force in the Renew Europe group.
Macron’s alliance is ideologically close to ALDE and the French president has participated in several of ALDE’s traditional meetings in Brussels ahead of European Council summits. But Macron has avoided becoming fully part of the ALDE family, preferring to build up his own pan-European network and keen to avoid the “liberal” label seen in France as a symbol of heartless ultra-capitalism.
The long-term aim of both Macron and ALDE has been to build a force to rival the traditional big two of European politics, the center-right European People’s Party and center-left Party of European Socialists.
A northern European MEP and member of ALDE said some liberal parties would not like the proposal. But, the MEP said, “we have to succeed in the group, in the Parliament … if it’s an exercise to unify the party, I’m fine with that.”
Other signatories of Séjourné’s letter include European centrist parties such Horizons, the party of former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Poland 2050, Italy’s Azione and Reper, a new party led by former Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș, the former Romanian prime minister and currently an MEP.