Sunday 7 June 2009

European Parliament elections 2009

Here we are. Sunday, 7 June 2009. The final day of the EP elections 2009.

In a few minutes, I will leave the house. At 7:30, I will be at the polling station. We will prepare everything. Spend the day making sure that voters can exercise their right to vote - a right for which they are envied by half of the world's population (or even more).

The same will happen all over the Union, the largest transnational democracy on earth.

This Union that is the only polity that has managed to overcome the glorious and disastrous idea of the nation state. This Union that was able to develop after the most catastrophic war in the history of mankind and that had the strength and courage to enlarge itself after the end of a cold war that had the potential to destroy the world.

We tend to forget this. We tend to take luxury and the absence of fear for granted. We are easily distracted by the ugliness of the detail instead of looking at the beauty of the whole picture.

It is a Union full of mistakes, full of shortcomings, full of stupidities. It is a Union of intertwined power games and inherent misunderstandings. It is a Union of political elites, a Union unseizable for the many who have grown up under the false and separating construction of nations. It is a Union that needs reform, that needs to find its way.

However, it is a Union that has set an example. It has set an example that we are able to overcome divisions that seemed insurmountable only a few decades ago. The sceptics say that we have given up democracy for this Union, but what we have done is to give up egoistic competencies in order to strive for common solutions.

Egoism does not disappear from today till tomorrow and so we weren't able to build a better democracy when striving for these common solutions. Because our governments and representatives think they speak in our best interest by defending national positions, we are not able to become a common European people.

As long as the German plumber fears the Bulgarian plumber coming to live alongside his family, and as long as the Polish farmer envies the Slovenian farmer for the subsidies she gets, and as long as the Swedish nurse would never go to work in a Portuguese hospital, we still have a long way to go.

What we forget is that we don't have a problem to think of these options as possibilities. There is just some discomfort with the implementation. There are just some doubts whether in practice this will work out or whether it is really necessary. But there are no doubts that it is possible.

We don't even realise that we have crossed this border a long time ago, this line that was clearly saying that these options were just not possible. But now they are.

The same with the European democracy. What most discuss is not that there should be a European democracy, the question is just about how to make it a reality. And having grown up with 27 different traditions, ideas and ideals, we haven't yet found the easy solution that fits for all. But most can imagine the possibility - and if we go back 50-60 years, only very few very visionary persons were going this far.

Now let me be very clear: I am very sure that today will be a huge disappointment.

Turnout will be low and we will lose time over the next weeks discussing whose fault this was. We spend way too much time discussing why things don't happen, wasting our efforts instead of investing time in building "a more perfect Union".

Tonight, after all the votes have been counted, all the protocols handed in, I will return and see the results coming in. I will be disappointed, although not surprised after what I have been witnessing over the last months.

There will be no reason to blog about the results, because this will be the only time when all of the continents media will spend some attention to this valuable piece of supranational democracy we were able to build. All I need to do is to listen. And watch.

And tomorrow morning I will get up and continue figuring out how we can make Europe a better place. Some will say I am a stupid idiot, and I will agree.

Then I will continue, as a stupid idiot, disappointed by the ugly details of today, but still enchanted by the beauty of the larger picture, willing to contribute to make it larger and more beautiful. Every day a little bit more.

PS.: For all those of you who have come to this blog for the first time, please see the overview article over my 120 articles published over the last 11 months on the road to the European Parliament elections 2009. Since this will be the last article dealing with the pre-electoral process, you might be interested in having a look back.

For me, this particular journey ends here; it is now time to look forward.


filip said...

Thank you for all the effort - it has been very interesting to read your blog over the last few months. I think these are extremely interesting times in the history of the European project.

It might seem stalled - after all, both the Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty have been rejected in referenda, and turnout in the elections is declining.

But at the same time, I think the existence of the EU is now seen as self-evident by many, especially younger people, and what people are rightfully unhappy with is the way it works. I think of it as a sign of strong democratic society. Few people voted against the Constitution/Lisbon Treaty because they did not want Codecision made standard. Few people rejected them because they are against the European project in general.

And I think it is encouraging that even parties said to be Eurosceptic - such as Libertas - are increasingly constructive. Their discourse is now almost always around democracy, accountability, transparency - all things we federalists hold dear - and rarely about national sovereignty. Isn't that a very positive sign?

french derek said...

My thanks also.

I believe in the EU. I experienced the horror of WW2 and I want no-one else to go through the same. I have benefited from the very existence of the EU - in my work and in my daily life.

But Lisbon is the wrong prescription for the wrong illness. OK it seeks to fix problems caused by the greater size of the EU "machine" ; but it doe not address the democratic deficit. Until that is fixed, the EU will always disappoint.