Saturday 6 June 2009

European Parliament election 2009 (118): Continued ignorance

It is the third day of the European Parliament elections 2009. The mainstream media still don't care. Major websites have the topic hidden somewhere between sports and society.

The ignorance continues.

I doubt that many voters will have got an idea of the political positions of the parties running for these elections from newspapers, news programmes, or major news sites. Instead of presenting political positions and ideological debates, we have to content ourselves with proxy discussions on national topics for which the EP elections are just a welcome occasion.

Day three of the European Parliament elections 2009, and among the most important issues is Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi (even if one may construct a connection to the EP elections) having nude young ladies around him. If this is the biggest problem we have in Europe, then maybe everything is fine.

In 36 hours we will start getting results for the next European Parliament. People will notice, but they won't care.

MEPs will go back to their little offices, their travelling circus, their lobby talks, their Brussels life. And they won't care either, as long as they are elected.

They won't care, and they will blame the media. They will stop blogging, tweeting, facebooking, because their campaigns are over. They will ignore voters' interests and media's needs, they will write their reports, ask their questions, and travel between Brussels and Strasbourg.

"Ignorance" is the word that applies to all three major sides in these European Parliament elections:

The media ignore MEPs and the necessity to inform citizens. MEPs ignore "their" citizens by using inadequate means of communication and lack a strategic approach to European and national media. Citizens ignore their MEPs because they do not appear in the main news and they ignore fringe media covering EU issues because electing a new superstar is much more fun.

So everybody ignores everybody, and nobody notices.

We live in the Union of European Ignorance:
  • European politics are based on the ignorance of many for many, which leaves room for the few to work and decide in the name of many without being held accountable.
  • The European polity is constructed so that it fosters ignorance, by making structures and process so complicated and intransparent that not even scientists know why something happens in the European, and neither do the media or the citizens.
The magma seethes below the surface, but the volcano doesn't errupt - so we will ignore it until the day when it explodes in a major catastrophe. Then they will look back to day 3 of the European Parliament elections 2009 and say:

"But, back then, we didn't know!"

Since July 2008, I have been following up national and European activities on the path to the EP elections under the category "European parliament elections 2009".

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.



I sincerely hope the proposed change in the EP election laws is adopted so that we'll have truly pan-European campaigns come 2014 – I really don't see how it'll improve otherwise...

Any idea what the chances of that proposal being adopted are?

Julien Frisch said...

To be very honest: I didn't see these proposals yet.

But I suppose that it will largely depend on the turnout and political outcome of these elections, maybe also on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Where I have doubts: There will have to be a considerable pressure on the member states to accept the changes, and I don't see yet where this pressure will come from.


The Duff Report is available at – though I have to say in my memory it was even more pan-European, it at least proposes to introduce a partially pan-European election.

Now that you've read it – your thoughts?

Julien Frisch said...

It is exactly as you say: These proposals are not much transnational or pan-European.

In addition, they include a number of technical issues which have no relevance for the necessary changes and I don't think that there will ever be a decision that takes up all the proposals.

For me, it looks like a very hypothetical proposal.

Simple solution which will be hardly be accepted:
- 30% elected on Europe-wide lists without preferential voting (because this could disadvantage candidates from smaller states)
- 70% elected according to national rules and in accordance with traditions and practices of the country
- election days will be Saturday and Sunday in all countries, results will be counted on Sunday evening.

Full stop.
- election days

Eurocentric said...

I have you agree with you here - the elections are still almost completely nationally based. It's still strange to think that none of the scandals over the last few weeks have affected Berlusconi or is party in any significant way, but I suppose the opposition is to disorganised to capitalise on it.

I'm not exactly sure how much transnational lists will help, since people may vote just to back/punish the national party. It could have some effect over time, though. If the lists were determined by the European parties rather than national parties, though, it could be a big boost in developing the independence of the EP from the interference of national party leaderships.

Ralf Grahn said...

Elections according to a uniform procedure were the original treaty aim, but the attempts failed because of the requirement for a unanimous Council decision.

Later the treaty (now Article 190 TEC) was amended to allow for the reality: "or in accordance with principles common to all Member States".

For the sake of comparison: The internal market would never have become a reality without the shift from unanimous decision-making.

french derek said...

Here in France our daily newspaper "Sud Ouest" has had daily reports - interviews with heads of list, views from around the EU country-by-country, panel discussions, etc. The national dailies have also given full coverage. Apart from the party broadcasts, TV has given daily coverage, too - with special programmes (one, a debate - shouting match! - between Cohn-Bendit and Bayrou deserves a YouTube slot).

The voting office sent out all the party propaganda in one envelope. Every party except the UMP is promising change: hardly any of it worth voting for.

At least we've been informed.


I personally think Europe Ecologie are quite worthy of your vote, but it is, of course, your choice.