It's official: shortly after 5.30pm local time, Sir Graham Watson
, the sole Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, was declared the new President of the European Liberal and Democrat and Reform party
(ELDR), elected unopposed
with massive support by delegates meeting for its congress in Palermo.
Mr Watson will take over from Belgian MEP Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck
and serve an initial mandate of two years.
In his acceptance speech, drawing on great liberal thinkers from Adam Smith to Johan Norberg, Sir Graham made a strong case for the need of liberal thought in today’s Europe, and the central place for the ELDR Party in this process. He promised to make ELDR stronger, smarter and the supranational force in Europe, and concluded with the message: "live a little dangerously or risk not living at all. To be a Liberal and believe it is enough.
The ELDR Party also elected its five Vice Presidents, with Marc Guerrero (CDC, Catalonia), Lousewies van der Laan (D 66, The Netherlands) and Leoluca Orlando (IDV, Italy) re-elected for another term; Mr Watson's fellow ALDE MEP colleague Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (FDP, Germany) and Astrid Thors (SFP, Finland) are new additions to the ELDR Party Bureau.
The Liberal Democrat Leader and British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
has tonight publicly congratulated Sir Graham on his election. In his glowing reference
, he remarks:
"In uncertain times we need strong leaders in Europe who are prepared to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances.That’s why I think Sir Graham will be a great leader for Liberals in Europe.
His skill and wealth of experience will be invaluable as he brings people together to face these huge challenges. I have known Sir Graham for many years and he has always been a strong, passionate voice for the cause of Liberalism."
Some praise indeed.
Labels: Graham Watson