The first meeting of the enlarged European Parliament took place in Strasbourg on Monday (15th Jan).
The first meeting of the enlarged European Parliament took place in Strasbourg on Monday (15th Jan). Experienced European Parliamentarians were joined by some 40 delegates from the three new member countries of the EEC -- Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark. However, the new delegates were only seated after a politically delicate game of 'musical chairs' had been resolved; and 15 Labour politicians from Britain were not present to take part at all.
The seating problems arose because of the very nature of the European Parliament. Here, delegates do not sit in National groups, they sit in Political groups. So if for example the Conservatives from Britain and Denmark do not with to sit with Germany's Christian Democrats, or the French Gaullists, then where do they sit?
If the Gaullists no longer want to sit on the far right of the Assembly because of their image at "home", then where do they sit? The Gaullists are particularly worried about their image. As French opinion polls swing to the left, the Gaullists, faced by a General Election in March, do not with to seem too far to the Right.
British Liberals, normally, Centre or left of Centre, didn't want to sit with Italian Liberals, generally described as "neo-fascists."
Temporary solutions have been found to the European Parliament's seating problems. However, delegates are insisting that, once the French General Election is over, the problem must be settled once and for all.