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British MEP Sir Graham Watson elected President of European Lib Dems

November 27, 2011 12:00 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Sir Graham Watson MEP speaking at SalermoLiberal Democrat MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, and former leader of the Liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament, Sir Graham Watson MEP has been elected President of ELDR, the European Liberal Democrat and Reform party, at their annual congress in Palermo, Sicily.

ELDR is the European political party federation to which the Liberal Democrats belong, along with 55 other Liberal parties across Europe including the German FDP, the Netherlands' VVD and D66 parties, Denmark's Venstre and Russia's PDU and Yabloko parties. 8 of the 27 European Commissioners and 2 current European national Prime Ministers, Andrus Ansip of Estonia and Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, are amongst its ranks.

After his election, Sir Graham Watson MEP said: "I am honoured that ELDR has chosen me to lead our great party. I pledge to strengthen European Liberalism, support Liberal parties across our continent and build up the ELDR party by opening its doors to new members. I take inspiration from our strong base of Liberalism here in my South West constituency and the great work done by activists, Councillors and MPs. From the work of Ashdown to Penhaligon, the experiences and lessons we learn here will be emulated across the continent."

"My three main goals will be to expand our Party, to update its campaign techniques and to build it into a party which is truly pan-European in its thinking. It is our job as Liberals to explain how we offer a real, principled and economically responsible alternative to the behemoths of conservatism and socialism. And as President of ELDR I intend to do just that."

"The multiple crises we are currently mired in - economic, political and environmental - are an opportunity for Liberals to show what we are made of."

Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP has congratulated Sir Graham on his election, saying: "In uncertain times we need strong leaders in Europe who are prepared to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. Sir Graham will be a great leader for Liberals in Europe. His skill and wealth of experience will be invaluable as he brings people together to face these huge challenges. I have known Sir Graham for many years and he has always been a strong, passionate voice for the cause of Liberalism."