Reform, debate, protest and professionalism – but not hate or rivalry: these are words that can best describe the career of Jens-Peter Bonde during his long tenure at the European Parliament. He was always one of the voices supporting the few and actively opposing the majority, yet this never led to bitter grudges or enmity. In one of his latest articles, Mr Bonde talks about how you can be a friend with the person you disagree with in the plenary session.
He notes how the Commission President, José Barroso, reacted on the news of the veteran MEPs withdrawal. “I will miss you” were the words of one who, casual observers might think, was a rival to Mr Bonde. Yet this was the overall attitude in the Parliament. Jens-Peter Bonde’s discourse was always tough and strong. He never backed down to criticize decisions or projects that he saw as unjust or undemocratic. His style however made it clear that in a political debate the only enemies are the ideas and arguments – not the persons.
The European Union has many problems –hate and slander are the last issues it should have to deal with. Mr Bonde’s style is a lesson to be looked at by all aspiring politicians. He campaigned against the Santer Commission in 1999 and he succeeded in forcing its resignation. On a personal level, however, Mr Santer was never attacked. Same goes for Romano Prodi, who could maintain a friendship relation with Mr Bonde even though in the political ‘arena’ they might have disagreed on a number of items.
‘Friendship along political lines’ is the title of an article written by Mr Bonde this week, after the news of his future resignation went public. We strongly advise you to read his words and draw the wisdom that is within. Without a government and opposition, a political system cannot truly function – true consensus stems from debate. Democracy can only exist when any minority can attack decisions made by the majority that infringe upon its freedoms and its rights. The struggle and the ensuing conflict are sometimes rather fierce. Tensions arise and some forget that the only real goal is the good of everyone involved in the discussion – that is the ideal result of politics. Throwing words around and resorting to insults is not only unprofessionally and impolite but, in the end, harms the debate.
When MPs or MEPs resort to insults or personal attacks, we can be certain that the issue discussed will be forgotten and that their real arguments will be all but ignored by their opponents. We see this happening all too often in national parliaments around Europe and the world and even in the hemicycle in Brussels of Strasbourg at times. Yet Mr Bonde’s remarks show that this is completely avoidable. He has always been involved in difficult debates, has always been in the middle of political arguments but has managed to keep good relations. His is an example to be followed.
Read Jens-Peter Bonde’s article at: http://www.bonde.com/index.php/bonde_UK/article/bondes_briefing_310308/
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