This was not necessarily a point to highlight in Brussels. The recent conclusions of the Eurobarometer, surveyed in January and February in the middle of Qatargate (1), essentially underlined the good level of European support for Ukraine. The question “Do you tend to trust or distrust the European Parliament?” », she was relegated to page 47 of the appendices. The answer, however, interests the entire political class, in a context where the major European parties are already beginning to get in working order for the May 2024 election.
The calm after the media storm
“There has not been the image disruption that one might expect, with the possible exception of Belgium where the corruption investigation is taking place. In France in particular, the attention has not been colossal”, underlines Emmanuel Rivière, international director for political studies of Kantar Public, the institute which carried out the survey. However, the media coverage of the corruption scandal linked to Qatar was abundant, in the midst of the World Cup organized by the emirate, and the rebound that followed for similar facts linked this time to Morocco was also good. relayed.
Parliament’s rating fell by an average of three points (49%) across the EU. In France, where no elected official is worried at this stage, the European hemicycle has lost only one (38%), starting from the bottom it is true. “The seers are not in the red, but that could be the case if the affair continues to be serialized between now and the election”, nevertheless warns Emmanuel Rivière, while the investigation is still in progress.
For the time being, the “breakage” is limited to a handful of countries more directly concerned. Belgium, host country of the European institutions, where several personalities of the Parliament are implicated, recorded a loss of confidence of 10 points, going from 63 to 53%. The discount is less in Greece (35%, -5 points), while the Social Democrat Eva Kaili, one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament from this country, is still imprisoned, “bags of banknotes” having were searched at his home.
Presidency magnifying effects
Contrary to the general trend, Italy even recorded an increase in esteem (54%, +1 point). Former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who agreed to cooperate with justice in exchange for a reduced sentence, is however one of the key protagonists of the scandal. This is perhaps due to the death in January 2022 of the President of the European Parliament, the Italian social democrat David Sassoli, which was the occasion to praise a man of values in the media.
The new president of the institution, the Maltese Roberta Metsola (EPP, right), cannot boast of having halted the slide in her country. Despite the announcement of a package of anti-corruption measures, including increased control of the activities of MEPs abroad, the scandal has tarnished the image of a Parliament that is nevertheless very highly regarded by Maltese people who have been burned by corruption in national scale (63%, – 10 points).
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