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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not the best expression of European democracy

Over on his Brussels blog, the FT's Tony Barber contrasts the lively and through hearings of presidential appointees in the US Senate, to the European Parliament's dull and far-from-rigorous confirmation hearings of would-be commissioners, which are taking place this week. He concludes:
The European Parliament is obviously a work in progress, rather than the finished product, so one shouldn’t carp too much. But the hearings, combined with the fact that this legislature was elected last June on the lowest turnout since direct elections to the European Parliament started in 1979, do not convince me that what is going on here is the best possible expression of European democracy.
Not least in light of the ever-so-unelected Baroness Ashton's non-hearing, we certainly agree.


Anonymous said...

Well, exactly. It's not surprising we have a duff european parliament, if voters (and political parties and the media) don't take European elections seriously enough.

Whilst the electoral system may also be at fault (a donkey could get elected if it were on a party list), it is the voter's responsibility to make an informed decision - you'd think that would include checking out top party list candidates' credentials...

And the voter can't not rely on the media to scrutinise politicians.

Politicians get an easy-ride at elections these days..particularly European. Perhaps too easy!

Anonymous said...

It's easy to lay the blame on the voters when it is obvious that these issues haven't been addressed for the past 30 years during which we have gone from 37% abstention in 1979 to 57.2% abstention in 2009 with a steadily increasing trend.

It is obvious that the absolute lack of influence in one's votes (since nearly all mainstream parties, in member-states, are pro-EU) in this Potemkin village parliament, a problem which has become accentuated by the decreasing representation of each country (and therefore, its capacity to influence decisions in the EP) and the fact that things, far from changing, have only become worse, has only been answered by the typical eurocratic tactic of denying reality and admonishing the oh-so stupid voters for not participating enough.

The whole thing is a farce, and is rightly treated as such by the voters.

Anonymous said...

This new democracy initiative called Public Talks may have some impact:

It is a plan by a US based NGO (or from a US perspective – a San Francisco based NGO) that wants to introduce a new communication process that could be used by pro-democracy groups. 
They are approaching leaders to get behind this in a distinctly forceful way – putting that leader’s name in the url.  
They want to make the words Public Talks part of our everyday political language.

Simon O’Corra
Institute for Public Dialogue
John Connolly
Executive Director
Sausalito, CA