of unintended consequences
Egg aimed at Jean-Marie Le Pen (left)
Ciriaco De Mita (right)
On 14th July the newly elected Members
of the European Parliament took their seats in Strasbourg for
the opening session of the new Parliament.
Throughout the Parliament's history
the honour of chairing this opening session has always fallen
to the oldest MEP, but Europe's rulers desperately changed the
rules a few months ago, when it became apparent that the oldest
MEP this year would be the controversial French nationalist Jean-Marie
...Yet although Le Pen was indeed
re-elected when the democratic dice were thrown last month, the
oldest MEP turned out to be the former Italian Prime Minister
Ciriaco de Mita, who thus misses out on an honour which would
have capped his years of blameless service to Europe's political
De Mita had miraculously survived
of close involvement with the most scandal-ridden party in the
democratic world - Italy's Christian Democrats - but has now
been punished for someone else's thought-crime. The political
egg aimed at Le Pen hit de Mita (born four months earlier) full
in the face!
Le Pen, leader of France's Front
National and an MEP since 1984, was given a three month suspended
prison sentence for daring to describe the German occupation of
France during the 1940s as "not particularly inhuman."
He had earlier been condemned for
describing the "Holocaust" as a "detail of history".
Such sentiments are now prohibited
in France under the notorious Gayssot Law.
But as Europe's politicians have
discovered, once one begins to change traditional rules of debate
it can have unexpected consequences!