The main centre-right group in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP), lost out in two contests last week to lead election-monitoring delegations, to Georgia and Ukraine.
The leadership of the delegation to Georgia was thrown into disarray when, as European Voice reported last week, Marian-Jean Marinescu stepped down as chairman of the delegation just six days before the start of the mission.
The EPP then wanted Krzysztof Lisek to lead the delegation, but could not secure the votes necessary (despite the decision by an Estonian Green, Indrek Tarand, to disregard his party's wishes and vote for Lisek). Since two of the delegation's eight members were not present to break a three-three tie, the EPP wanted the decision postponed until the morning that the delegation started work in Tbilisi. But Edit Herczog, a Hungarian Socialist, who was chairing a preparatory meeting, decided a vote should be held. The EPP refused to take part and referred the decision to the Parliament's legal department, which ruled against the EPP. The chairman was named on the day the mission arrived in Tbilisi: Milan Cabrnoch, a Czech member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR).
Elmar Brok was the other EPP figure to lose out, this time in a bid to lead the election monitoring mission to Ukraine (the election is scheduled for 28 October). The 66-year-old German (pictured) may be chairman of the Parliament's foreign-affairs committee, but he was beaten by a 37-year-old Pole, Pawel Kowal (ECR), this time with no need for a vote even to be taken. While Lisek was felt too be too close to Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's president, Brok was felt to be too outspoken a supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine.
Brok, who did his best to get a decision postponed, did not take his defeat well, and threatened not to participate in the election – a threat that, by Monday, he had revoked.