One word to start with: Do you have the feeling that the European Parliament elections are coming closer? For me it feels like they are further away than ever, that less is going on, that interest is shrinking ahead of June, not raising.
On the other hand, I can read very interesting things, like this PES post on campaign exchanges. I find this initiative excellent, and I would urge all European parties, and in particular their youth organisations which have called for a true European campaign recently, to foster those exchanges.
A campaigner from another country can significantly change the dynamics of street or door-to-door campaigning. Somebody asks a critical question about domestic politics - and the campaigner can argue that this is not about domestic issues but about European questions: "Look, we even have a friend from country XYZ with us, and together we fight for the cause ZYX [and then: The manifesto of the European party]." It can be easier to come into conversations with potential voters, because they might just be interested in the European foreigner, her/his motives etc. which will ease to pass the political message.
These exchanges will also help to shape the next European Parliament elections, because the experiences of common problems and different perspectives can be helpful design true European campaigns in the future, something which is only in its infancy today, no matter what the European parties are saying. My feeling is that so far the European campaigns are designed mostly from a Brussels perspective, they don't really seek the connection of the supranational level with the local campaigning, apart from some particular events which however seem to be designed to be visible in Brussels instead of being visible "on the ground".
Another argument, very campaign strategic, for having exchanges is mentioned in the PES article: Having exchange campaigners can be a good topic for the local press, both in the home area of the campaigner and on the spot where s/he is visiting. Since it changes the perspective of the campaign, local or regional press might become interested. This can help to shape a particular positive European profile on the local level, it might raise the perceived competence in European matters, and it raises credibility of statements on European issues because voters/readers will see that the respective party organisations does something practical and inherently European.
For me, Europe is about exchanges.
It is the exchange of friendship and opinions, of knowledge and experience, of solidarity and perspectives, an exchange over and across the formerly dividing concepts of "nation" or "culture". The European elections are a political manifestation of these (ex-)changes, and they should therefore bring changes: In style, in attitude, in human faces.
So exchange, campaigners - and change!
Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.
For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.
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Project idea: Watching Trialogues
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