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Pro-independence candidate excluded from ‘Eurovision debate’

16 May 2024 4 minute read
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen taking part in the Maastricht debate on April 29 with EFA candidate Maylis Roßberg (right):

Luke James, Brussels

Just days after a Eurovision song contest mired in multiple controversies, its organisers are under renewed fire for excluding the voice of Europe’s minorities from its EU election debate.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), of which national broadcasters like S4C and the BBC are members, is holding a ‘Eurovision debate’ ahead of next month’s European elections.

The EBU initially included the European Free Alliance (EFA), which represents pro-independence parties including Plaid Cymru and the SNP as well as those representing regionalists and minorities, in preparations for the debate being held in Brussels on May 23.


Raul Romeva, a former Catalan government minister who was imprisoned in Spain’s crackdown on the 2017 independence referendum, was set to represent EFA in the debate alongside current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

EFA candidate Raul Romeva

EFA’s other lead candidate, Maylis Roßberg, has already taken part in the first major European election, which was held in Maastricht in April.

But EFA announced that it has been “banned” from the EBU event.

“We want to express our deepest disappointment and unconformity with this decision,” the party said in a statement.

“European democracy deserves more. By shutting the door on our participation, the EBU is not only silencing the voices of smaller parties but also undermining the principles of democracy and inclusivity.”

The debate in April included the lead candidates nominated for the position of European Commission president by official European political parties.

The EBU’s rules meant only parties which nominated a lead candidate were eligible to take part. That automatically excluded two right-wing parties which chose not to nominate a lead candidate, known by the German term “Spitzenkandidat.”

Limit participation

But the EBU has now additionally decided to limit participation to one candidate per group in the European Parliament, in which EFA sits with the European Greens, rather than one candidate per political party.

“The lack of communication and transparency from the EBU regarding the selection process for the debate is deeply concerning,” added the EFA statement.

“The decision by the EBU to impose arbitrary rules and limitations on the nomination of Lead Candidates is not only undemocratic but also constitutes a clear interference in the European Elections.”

The row comes just days after the EBU was criticised for chaos at the Eurovision song contest, which included its controversial decision to exclude the Dutch entry and a ban on attendees bringing EU flags.

Welsh flag

The EBU has previously been criticised for putting the Welsh flag on a list of banned symbols which also included the flag of the Islamic State terror group.

Nation.Cymru asked the EBU for a statement but did not receive a response.

The conservative European People’s Party (EPP) is set to once again win the highest number of seats in the European elections, with the Socialists expected to come second, according to Europe Elects.

The European liberal party is in a tight three-way race with the European Conservative and Reformist party, which was founded as part of David Cameron’s efforts to placate Brexiteers in the Conservative party, and the far-right Identity and Democracy party, which includes Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National and the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The Green/EFA group, which is currently the fourth largest in the European Parliament, is set to lose members and be pushed into sixth place.

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 days ago

And they, “The European Broadcasting Union” , said they were non political lol. The stench of hypocrisy is thick in the air. Besides banning Europe’s oldest national flag Y Ddraig Goch and equating it with ISIS. Engineering Ukraine winning Eurovision whilst excluded Russia but allowing Israel to compete even though committing currently committing genocide in Gaza, are now in the pocket of Spain it seems by omitting representatives of Catalan independence. Wonder if they’ve been in contact with Labour’s Keir Starmer seeing they are well used to excluding, cancelling & purging left leaning members from their party.

5 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Such is the myth of the “all inclusive” EU. It’s a vehicle for protecting the status quo for all their membership but happy to rock a few boats among outsiders just to recruit any country that might break away from The Bear’s grip. Basques, Catalans, Scots, Welsh, haven’t got a hope with this monolithic club despite having undoubted suitability for independence.

5 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The “Celtic” people are the most persecuted people in Europe history, more o than even the Slavs. The oldest people and yet only one nation has been allowed a seat at the high table, I wonder why? Im not a conspiracy theorist but…..

5 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Agree with every bit of your post, the idea we can’t manage our own affairs is beyond a joke. If Narau, an island nation of only 10,000 people can be independent country and have a seat at the UN, then all can.

5 days ago

Yeah, so much for democracy huh? We have seen in Georgia how high they hold democracy, love it when it goes for them, hate when it’s goes against. Notice how out of the several “Celtic” people, one of the oldest cultural groups on earth, only one has been allowed a seat at the high table. I wonder why?

Last edited 5 days ago by Riki

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