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Thoughts on the European Elections 2014 results. Thoughts on the European Elections 2014 results.
by Christos Mouzeviris
2014-06-18 12:07:53
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Three weeks after the European Elections 2014 took place across the continent, nobody has clarified to the citizens of Europe what their decisions will mean for them.

After years of austerity and increase in social injustice, it was inevitable to have a surge in the popularity of populist, "Euro-skeptic" parties across the union.

Until the economic crisis, they remained in the periphery of the political life in each member state. Yet they have now managed to gain significant support and increase their presence in the European Parliament (EP).

In certain core EU states like France and the U.K, the Euro-skeptic parties UKIP and the National Front, have claimed victory in the elections by winning the majority of the votes. In other countries such as Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Austria, far right, radical left or anti-EU parties gained a significant number of seats in the EP.

In Italy, the Movimento 5 Stelle party came second in votes, while in Greece the Golden Dawn, in Austria the Freedom Party and in the Netherlands the Party for Freedom came third. In Greece we had also the radical left party Syriza also winning the elections, although they are not hard-line anti-EU party.

Of course the majority of the seats again went to the "establishment" parties, despite the significant gaining of the Euro-skeptic ones. And while one would think that having a diverse European Parliament, with many smaller parties being included is a good thing, in this case is anything but.

A large number of smaller parties with a pro and pan-European agenda in the EP like the Federalist Party, would actually be of benefit for democracy in Europe. In the EP's case, we need to start having politicians and parties that have an EU wide agenda, if we want to have real democracy on European level.

But with parties that not only oppose any further integration, but they have a very conservative, nationalist and radical approach to politics, the EP will lose its power and influence. A divided European parliament by an increasing number of Euro-skeptic MEPs, makes it difficult to reach to decision fast and effectively, thus weakening it.

In return, a parliament that is not as efficient is being stripped of the citizens' support, as they see no use of it. And rightly so. When considering the circumstances that led to an increase of anti-EU parties in the heart of one of its institutions, we can not but blame the European elites for their handling of the euro-zone crisis.

Under the lead of Germany, Europe's governments for years have tried to make the working classes of the continent pay for a crisis that they did not start. They have nearly destroyed the continent's middle class, pushing millions of Europeans near or under the poverty line in many countries, especially those of the periphery.

And not just that, but they placed the EU as an institution in the forefront of every disastrous decision they have taken the past few years, shifting the blame from the national governments to the EU institutions. A very clever diversion to have an institution to use as a scapegoat, when it suits you!

Understandably the European citizens have voted for radical parties, as a protest. For years they have seen their wages, social security and worker's rights being slashed, so the results of these European elections were expected.

What the citizens do not understand, is that if they continue to place Euro-skeptic politicians in the European Parliament, they are actually harming their own interests. The EP is the only tool that we, the voters have in the EU. It represents our voice. And that is why our leaders do not give it the power that it needs to have to be effective and efficient.

They want to have an EU to promote the European elites' interests, but an EP with just enough power to give the European project enough legitimacy, so the people won't protest. Yet if we judge from Mr. Cameron's recent staunch opposition to Mr. Juncker's election as the head of the new EU Commission, our governments do not want to hand over too much power to the EU.

That is not necessarily a good thing for us, the citizens. From the constant power struggles between the three main EU institutions, the European Parliament, the EU Commission and the EU Council it is we, the people who pay the price.

When the EU is governed by inter-governmentalism, the bigger states like the UK, France and Germany have a bigger and more decisive say in the institution's direction. The governments of the rich nations can control and shape the EU's agenda, according their own interests.

That is of course anything but a democracy. If we want to have a more equal and fair Europe, it is the European Parliament who must have the major role in policy making, in most Europe wide affairs. And that does not mean absolute centralization of all power in Brussels, as many fear.

Europe must be governed in three levels, local, national and European. For all matters European, the decisions must be taken solely by the European Parliament, while the national governments must keep control on national issues. And that is where the clash takes place.

The governments of the core European economies, do not want let go of the control they have over their affairs, or the influence they have over the smaller European nations. They want to arrogantly lead Europe according their own interests, ignoring the needs of the peripheral states or refusing to share the wealth and decision making with them.

That I am afraid is not a sign of a united Europe, rather of an unequal continent that the rich elites, of the rich elite nations rule to the detriment of every worker across the continent. Is it bold to think that the weakening of European Parliament by pushing citizens to "democratically" elect extreme parties, was planned by the European governments and the elites they represent?


In other words, Europe's citizens "democratically" decided to weaken the EP as a protest towards their national government's actions and disastrous policies over the years. That is against their interests in one hand and in second, I personally believe that their decisions were widely manipulated by the European establishment, that is against a radical shift of power.


They want to take back control from "Brussels" and keep "national" interests under the national governments. That is a fallacy, considering the extreme neo-liberal policies they have pursued during the past decades, which have undermined the interests of the ordinary citizens, in every EU member state, either rich or poor.

Their policies widely favor big banks and multinational businesses, to the detriment of all European workers. Through populist and inflammatory media context, they also incite a war among the European peoples and the continent's classes. Immigrant against native, Eastern against Western, Southern against Northern European. While us citizens, have a common enemy: our own "national" governments and their policies.

So if we really need to achieve real change in our continent, voting for far right or radical parties, is certainly not the way, as we are making our governments' work easier. We are shooting ourselves on the foot. The far right parties are helping the establishment to keep the status quo in place, not our "nations" to defend their interests.

What we need is a Europe wide action and cooperation, a strong European Parliament and European political parties to be more dominant in it. Thus bringing our continent under a federal political formation, in which solidarity, equality and other similar values will prevail.

Secondly we need our governments to start listening to their citizens and respect their vote! The attitude of Mr. Cameron and other who support him in his opposition in Mr. Juncker's election as a head of the EU Commission, even after he has clearly a legitimate claim and support of most political parties in the EP, is scandalous.

 


   
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Emanuel Paparella2014-06-18 16:40:57
This is perhaps the fourth or fifth article in Ovi magazine on the EU parliamentary elections and the harm being done to democracy by extreme right-wing Euroskeptic parties. I suppose the goal is to analyze and explain to concerned EU citizens, who misguidedly support and vote as a way of protesting, the consequences of that vote, for indeed an uninformed citizenry ignorant of the reasons for which they have formed a union will never create a genuine democratic polity. All well and good, Plato for one did not think much of any democracy not founded on a knowledgeable and well informed citizenry and a minority of wise men (not just knowledgeable men) holding the reins of power. Ultimately people end up with the government they wish, or perhaps by default with a government they don’t wish.

John Adams, one of the founders of the first of the modern democracies, was even more pessimistic than Plato when he said that having surveyed all the democracies since ancient Greece, he did not find one which had not eventually committed suicide. And so it goes; we are back to Machiavelli...

What I find intriguing however in this plethora of articles in Ovi magazine and elsewhere is that while they all concur that the center does not currently seem to hold very well in EU democracy, the way it used to hold initially when the founding fathers envisioned such a polity, few inquire about the underlying malaise which ends up putting the cart before the horse, forming a political entity without first asking the question of cultural identity, of who are the people who wish to form a more perfect union and what form of government is most appropriate for those kind of people, without reducing democracy to mere patriotic nationalism or mega-nationalism....

Even more shocking is the fact that those articles do not seem to produce a genuine dialogue preceded by serious listening; rather, a good number of them sound like monologues in an echo-chamber. How many comments to them can one count? Precious few. Most of us would perhaps agree that robust discussion and genuine dialogue, or what we call free unfettered speech, is like the oxygen of democracy. I am afraid that without it, the dire conclusion of John Adams will prove to be a Cassandra-like prophecy, and democracy will, Socrates-like, end up succumbing to the hemlock of despotism and elitism. Pity!


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