Friday 5 December 2008

European Parliament Elections 2009 (XXVII): Close to zero visibility

It is not the first time, that I address this issue under this category, and I suppose it won't be the last time. But the visibility of the pre-electoral process for the European Parliament Elections 2009 is, let's face it, disastrous.

Peter Sainley Berry comments on EUobserver:
I even noticed a new blogging competition yesterday run by the European Journalism Centre and a photographic competition run by the European Parliament. The subject is being raised in schools and on information tours to Brussels, in fact it is mentioned all the time.

Even the now defunct - proposed as an online political forum to facilitate exchange and debate among national parliamentarians on the future of the EU - was intended to boost interest and participation in the European elections of 2009.

And yet such steps, when you think about them, are just background: the sort of atmospheric hiss that comes over a badly-tuned loudspeaker.

These initiatives are all right in themselves and as far as they go - but really they don't go very far. They cannot disguise the awful fact that the political foreground is largely empty and silent.
So despite nice little initiatives, the recognition of Facebook as an important mean for political communication, and several smaller communication activities in and around the web, everybody can see that there is not too much to see, maybe because nobody really offers alternatives or because the EU is simply too complicated and dull.

Still, we are just some seven month before the elections, and in a true political system we should be facing heavy debates, discussions, and movement all over the place. But not even the financial crisis offers room for political discussions, it's more about national leaders than European politics.

The nation state is the loudspeaker, and the European union is the whisper, and only if your ear is really close to the source, you can hear it coming, this thing that we call an important indicator for democracy - elections.

So isn't this exactly the indicator pointing to the fact that European democracy is just an illusion, just a game of the few, of those who take the effort of listing to the whispering voices rather than relying on the tranquillising noise of our nations...?!

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.


Ralf Grahn said...


With the European Council in the driving seat, the world is about as paternalistic and benevolent as in the days of the Holy Alliance.

Can you, who are dedicated to your European dream, tell me the top candidates for the posts of Commission President, High Representative and President of the European Council?

How will your input into the debate and your vote decide the fate of the top contenders and how will the elections to the European Parliament set the course for the European Union for the next five years?

When you and I can answer these questions in a positive and enthusiastic manner, the European elections may start to appear on television and PC screens around Europe.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that many lists of candidates are not yet finished. In Germany the SPD will finalize the list of candidates on Monday. I know that the list of the Greens is not ready yet, too. I do not know about the other parties, but I doubt they're all faster.

Julien Frisch said...

@ Grahnlaw

The reason why we don't see many (if any) any alternatives for the posts you mentioned (although one will have to wait until Lisbon) is that nobody is building up genuine European political figures. This would be the tasks of the European parties (@ EUL:) no matter when the national parties have finalised their lists.

I think we should look at politicians with the profile of Cohn-Bendit to fill in those posts. No, they might not be more qualified than others. But they are more controversial - more political - and more European than any of the Commissioners who have made their way up through national posts, most frequently around the level of minister.

I think, if we look through the European Parliament, we could find a number of highly qualified, highly political, and strongly European people - male and female - and if we would you them for the European political campaigns, as candidates for more important posts than "just" MEPs, we were able to catch the attention of the media, of the citizens, of Europe.

A senator Obama also came from the legislature, and although I would not dare to compare the possibilities of the American political system with the European, it shows that someone from the legislature who incorporates the right values into a professional campaign can make its way into office.

This would be possible with political will. But there is no such will, and as long as there isn't, there won't be any change.

So no three names for the top posts (yet, Cohn-Bendit with whom I don't agree on everything, would a good draw), despite the fact that I am sure there are more than just three!

Ralf Grahn said...


You are quite right about the importance of competing candidates.

Throwing millions to raise interest in the shell of a campaign is hardly the way forward.