Could this split the Eurosceptic vote?
So another day and another new party enters the UK political scene with the intention of fighting every seat at June’s elections for the European Parliament.
The Libertas move looks serious given the success it had in the Irish Lisbon treaty referendum last year and the fact that it is planning to put up candidates in every single EU state. The party says it is not anti-EU but rather it wants to bring greater democracy and transparency to the institution.
It’s strong point is that it has a coherent message and it is pan-European. The question in the UK is whether the party will eat into the vote of other parties.
UKIP has seen an immediate threat and has already gone onto the offensive saying that Libertas is not opposed to the EU but simply wants to reform it.
The Tories might worry about the new grouping eating into their core support when they desperately want to maximise their share of the vote to provide a platform for the general election campaign.
Labour must be concerned about the growing fragmentation that another party will create and is likely to find itself vulnerable on its refusal last year to agree to a referendum on Lisbon. Libertas will highlight that.
The Lib Dems are also vulnerable on the referendum issue and they might just see a further threat as well. The new party has a name that in the eyes of some voters might be confused with theirs and there could just be a seepage because of voting mistakes. In 1994 the party suffered badly when an outfit called the “Literal Democrats” seemed to take away key votes in seats they had hoped to win.
A lot depends on the effectiveness of the Libertas campaign and whether they can raise sufficient money to mount an effective challenge.