Tuesday, June 16, 2009

European Elections

European voters seem to have decided to punish the left, but I can't really understand why... I mean, I can understand that people are unhappy because of the crisis and so on, and therefore I understand that the socialist parties in Portugal, in Spain, in Hungary and, especially, in the United Kingdom are punished. But, then, why not punish the right-wing parties in Germany, France or Italy too? I also understand that, in many countries, people are unhappy also with other things and use their votes (or their non-votes) to show their protest. But then why not to protest against the ones who are the true responsible? Let's be honest, 21 out of the 27 member states in the European Union are ruled by right or centre-right parties or coalitions; the outgoing European Parliament had a overwhelming majority of centre-right and right wing members; the European Commission is dominated by the same parties. So, if people are unhappy and want to protest, be it with what's happening at the national or at the European levels, why voting again for the same side of the political spectrum? When we look at the results of the European elections it actually seems that people are overwhelmingly satisfied and voted for keeping the same protagonists and the status quo. So, the question remains, why punishing the left? The other thing that strikes me about yesterday's results is why did the voters decide to punish Europe. I mean, it is true that the centre-right won and that the EPP will remain the biggest group in the EP. And, let's be fair, the EPP is a broad supporter of European ideas. But we can't forget that, to the right of the EPP, a new political group of parties that deem the EPP to be too European may arise, next to a refreshed and increased set of far-right members and a UEN group that resists well. Europe is indeed one of the biggest losers of these elections: first and foremost, because its real issues were almost totally absent from the campaign and the debates that paved the way to last weekend; then, because of the record-low turnout; and, finally, because the euro-sceptic parties increased their representation in the EP and extended their presence in a big number of countries. But, why would so many voters from so many countries turn their backs to the European elections and/or give their support to islamophobic, racist and even some bluntly open fascist parties? There is disappointment for sure, fear about what the future will bring, a lack of understanding of the role of the EU combined with the idea that it didn't react much to the crisis and, of course, there is also a big disappointment in politics in general. But when I combine all these factors and try to understand what the solution could be, I come to the conclusion that the most important reason for the European voters to have punished Europe is the lack of a coherent political discourse that seriously promotes and supports the idea of Europe and brings it closer to the hearts and minds of the citizens. I guess this is what explains the success of the Green parties almost everywhere in Europe; but this is also what brings the EPP, the PSE and ALDE groupings together, in spite of the different results they obtained. Mainstream parties are the ones that have the main responsibility to look at these results and change direction; and I urge them to do it while they still can, because time is running and the extreme and demagogical parties seem to be the ones leading the course... Fear needs to be fought and hope needs to be brought back into the picture, as Obama did in the US... This needs to be done at the different national levels, of course, but also at the European: the EU has a role to play and it needs to play it well. Europe may not need its Obama, but it certainly needs a new beginning! I am signing up for it; what about you?


Post a Comment

<< Home