Friday 1 August 2008

Tracking: EP elections 2009 (VI)

EurActive has published a long article titled "European Elections: Outlook for 2009".

While most of the article deals with general questions (e.g. voter turnout, political groups etc.) and history, for those of you rather familiar with the European Parliament it is still worth scrolling down until the section "Strategies to re-engage European voters: What the parties are doing".

Some quotes:
For the 2009 campaign, the EGP [European Green Party] plans to do [...] “a common campaign” and events planned in several European capitals such as Rome and Prague. [...] "In some countries, the common campaign will be 99% of the campaign because they do not want to add a national touch to it, whereas in other countries the common campaign might only make up 15%."

To re-engage with its voters, the PES [Party of European Socialists] has therefore chosen to polarise the debate along traditional left-right political fault lines.

Whether the EPP [European Peoples Party] will be able to translate its political strategy into a coherent common campaign for the 2009 election ... remains to be seen. And it is not certain either that such a programme will appeal to its core voters, especially in countries with a traditionally more critical stance towards Europe.

The European Liberals and Democrats (ELDR) [...] have only recently started discussing their strategy. The party manifesto will be based around four themes, the first being foreign, security and defence policy. Future discussions [...] will take place on the themes of "Liberal Europe" (understood as civil liberties) and the EU single market.
For more details, I recommend reading the complete article, that offers quite some food for thought and discussion.

One issue that I would like to raise is connected to the following quote:
[A] vicious circle of voter apathy has developed among EU citizens, fuelled by a lack of clear-cut power struggles which in turn diverts media interest away from the election.
For me, this points at one of the biggest problems:

Mainstream media are looking for the same old power struggles at the European level that they are used to from national politics. They are unable to tell an interesting story about something that is different from the usual boring games of politics. For me, it is rather interesting to see a British Labour party MEP, a Swedish conservative, a Romanian Liberal and a Latvian Green working on the same question in very similar directions than hoping that they have to clash over everything just because they belong to different party affiliations.

From my point of view, we will only get more interest in EU and general European matters if the media - and I include us bloggers to a certain extend - will become able to tell new stories in a new fashion. We should not try to project our old national and political stereotypes onto situations that have nothing to do with what we observe locally or nationally.

It is in the nature of things that European matters are more complex, because there are more people, more institutions, more cultures, more geographical and political interests involved in every single matter. So what? Then let's try to tell a complex story in new words and story lines.

And that we add more complexity does not mean that we have to make it more complicated! We just have to make it different, innovative in the true sense of the word.

If we manage, the European story will become interesting and European politics will become more democratic - not just because we have changed institutions but because we have changed interest in European matters and created the inherent need to participate - in European parliament elections but especially beyond.

Under the category "Tracking: 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.

For the five newest post see also the sidebar.