Monday, 27 April 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (90): The "Euro Election Gang" in Germany kicks off

(Original post: Die "Eurowahlgang" der Politikfabrik für die Europawahlen 2009: Gelungene Kick-Off Veranstaltung)

On Sunday evening I went to the kick-off event of the "Euro Election Gang" , a campaign of the voluntary student initiative Politikfabrik in the House of Europe in Berlin.

The goal of the Euro Election Gang is to make young people all over Germany interested in and enthusiastic about these European elections, in particular through panel discussions in 80 German cities (which is why 80 young "Election Gangsters" have been recruited and trained as ambassadors for the campaign), but also through printed and audiovisual materials, which will be distributed all over Germany.

The event yesterday evening to start this campaign was a raving success!

The organisers had invited representatives of all five German parties represented in the European Parliament today.

From the left:
The atmosphere was excellent, and the mixture of probably more than 200 young people superb.

So you can say a lot of stupid and intelligent things about European elections, politics, and young people, but in this room I didn't see any lack of interest or enthusiasm nor disenchantment with politics.

If passion for European politics and the willingness to engage for a common cause brings together 200 young people, you can feel the spirit of Europe. And eurosceptics all around can jump up and down just as they like, they'll never be able to create such a good mood!

The candidates (and the moderator) seemed to feel good as well in a room full of young people enthusiastic for politics and Europe. The discussion was open, direct, and particularly European, and even though sometimes you could hear the typical politician breaking through, the five MEPs seemed to be able to adapt to this special audience.

Only EP President Pöttering wasn't at his best several times, chuntering in reaction to the Green Rebecca Harms, telling long stories to prove his political convictions (which were absolutely boring and sounded like standard stories) and he even cut short one of the people asking a question.

If there is one person I wouldn't vote for after this evening, it's Mr Pöttering!

I could tell a lot more about the event, but it would become too long, so here just a list of topics and questions that were raised by the audience to the candidates:
  • Is low turnout the result of lack of information or lack of identification?
  • Should the EU militarise?
  • Should the EP have the right to initiate legislation?
  • What significance does the German Parliament ('Bundestag') have compared to the EP?
  • Different weight of votes in different EU countries
  • Europe without nations - Europe of the regions?
  • The role of religion in Europe
  • Why is there so much conflict between politicians?
  • Should Turkey join the EU?
  • Reduction of agricultural subsidies?
  • What about the Lisbon Treaty?
  • Should there be referenda for Treaty changes?
  • Length of ballot papers (quite long in certain German federal regions)
  • How to secure wealth in Europe?
  • How are political youth organisations' opinions taken into account by EP politicians?
Because of the large amount of questions, the five on the panel could pick the preferred ones, and so the answers were generally quite in their favour, which was appreciated by the audience with frequent but honest applause, no matter who was answering.

There is one thing that was highlighted cross-factionally: The special role of the individual deputy in the EP:

They all agreed that, different to national parliaments with their group discipline and governmental majorities, a deputy in the European Parliament has much more freedom when looking for political majorities, even across party lines, and even regarding the individual voting behaviour. For a politician, this seems to be a quite comfortable position, and non of the panellists made the impression that she or he would like to change the job in Strasbourg/Brussels against a seat in the 'Bundestag' or a regional parliament in Germany.

A successful evening, altogether, I had a lot of fun, and I can only hope that the 80 "Election Gangsters" will be able to bring this enthusiasm to the German "provinces" and will be able to motivate much more young people for Europe and for the European elections!

Thanks to the Election Gang and to the 'Politikfabrik'!


PS.: In a previous post I have remarked that the information office of the European Parliament was not really dominated by the European Parliament elections.

However, the Commission representative to Berlin informed that since October almost all financial and human resources of the Commission were dedicated to the EP representation and the campaign aspects for the European Parliament elections. This means that even though I might not have remark a lot of visible elements at the time that nothing happens.

And, seeing the House of Europe from a distance (which I didn't at the time), it is at least hard to overlook that the elections are about to come, and when they will be.

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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