Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Towler elsewhere

A couple of posts over there

So why bother with the European Elections?
Really, I am serious. OK I know that most of you who may turn up here are the sort of people who, by dint of that single fact are interested in the June polls. But what about everybody else. Why should they bother?

Worse still, this little bit of slightly silly rhetoric is merely a mirror of reality. After all the latest Eurobarometer poll reads pretty grim reading those of us who do give a damn. According to the Commission’s figures frankly things are looking pretty grim. Across the whole EU 27 only 34% are planning to vote at all. That is appalling. In Germany the prognostications are at 43%, in the UK a pitiful 22%. Worst of all are the figures for Luxembourg and Belgium at 64% and 70% respectively. Not to bad you say. Well yes, other than the fact that 30 and 36% of the citizens would prefer to break the law than endorse anybody in the elections.

As Margot Wallström herself pointed out in a letter at the end of last year to the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Parliament, a low turnout damages the legitimacy of the Parliament itself, and she said of the “entire European project”. When quizzed on the specifics of this of course she couldn’t or wouldn’t respond with any real figure, but the point is still moot, and she, one of the more honest members of the Euro elite at least recognises the problem.

Oh yes everybody in Brussels knows that the slow collapse of turnout since the first election to the Brussels Assembly in 1979 is bad news. Everybody recognises that it looks bad, but that is mainly from a PR perspective. The hundreds of millions of Euros being thrown at MTV and so on in a desperate attempt to raise figures are about this. But whether the philosophical aspect has been considered at the top table I very much doubt.

At what point, at what level of participation does the European Parliament become illegitimate? Democracy requires participation for it to have legitimacy. Lack of engagement does not mean that the elite can presume consent. The referenda in France, Holland and Ireland should at least have put paid to that idea. What they suggest is a deep disillusion with the whole project, an deliberate disengagement with the governors by the governed. The response of the elite to those referenda just confirms that consent is not required for the European leviathan to keep lumbering on. The great problem and fear is that when there is such sparse contact between these two things then something has to give. History is littered with unhappy examples.

The good news? Eurobarometer is rubbish. It informed the world that the people of Holland supported the old Constitution by about 60-40. Two weeks after they had voted 63% against. Genius.

No comments: