Friday, May 06, 2005

Tony Blair and the European Challenge

Tony Blair secured his third term. For the labour party, this is an historic victory. Never before in the past century a leader of that party could win three times in a row. For Tony, however, this was not a challenge. Ok, he had to endure a loss of a certain number of seats because of the opposition to the war in Iraq; but at the end of the day, a reduction of the number of seats in parliament is not a defeat after 8 years.

The real challenge Tony has to face is Europe. More precisely, he has to face the constitutional challenge. In the past 8 years, he has largely contributed to the shaping of a Europe á la Blair. The constitution is the way it is because of his continuous negotiations. In short, he has been very active at the European level. Also, he promised various times to that he would ask his people about Europe, the Euro, and now, about the nice packet of the European Constitution. It is still unclear whether Tony will fight this deadly (for him) battle if France votes for the No. It may not be very useful.

I am convinced though that he is desperate to become the future head of the European Council as designed by the European Constitution. After all, he is half the leader he used to be in his domestic environment. His image is fading away there, and he surely feels the pressure coming from everywhere: from the bottom (Brown), from the side (lib-dem and tories), from the top (Bush), from inside (he is still young, today 52 years old). For sure, he wants to become something new, something more. His friend Bill is not doing very well, although he may be thinking how to get Kofi Annan's place.

I am not sure whether a scenario with Tony Blair as president of the European Council, and Bill Clinton as head of the UN is feasible, nor whether it is desirable. But I am confident they will give it a try.

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