EURDEMOCRACY

Although many politicians lust after the job, the choice of Commission President is far too important to be left to party politicians. They are scarcely qualified. The job description says that Commissioners — all of them — should be independent. Party politicians obviously aren’t independent as they are proposed by and are therefore the tools of party political machines. They are dependent on their party, unless they break all ties with the party well before they are candidate and demonstrate independence from party politics for ever afterwards. Politicians cannot expect different rules for themselves compared with all other citizens.

The system to date is that the President of the Commission is chosen in secret conclave by politicians in the Council of Ministers. Surprise, surprise! They inevitably choose a politician, although the treaty specifies nothing of the sort. Excluding 98 percent of citizens who are not politicians is no way to build trust with Europeans they are supposed to represent.

Politicians have lost public trust by the handful because of recent scandals. There were also a few scandals in the past too! And when it comes to referendums, the representatives of the people do not trust the people. The referendums are only accepted if they give a Yes.

That smells badly of decay and corruption. But only to non-politicians. Far too many politicians come with stink-insensitive noses and thick skins. Am I exaggerating the bad conduct of a few? Just consider how much salaries, privileges and expenses have increased. Many of the early parliamentarians and representatives worked part-time or only had travel expenses for their European work. How many of the present politicians want all the accounts to be published? The public will find that vast sums are siphoned into party machines. The European taxpayer has never been asked for his or her opinion on this.

Let’s turn to considering an open vote on all candidates for the Commission. Anyone can stand. Should then the choice of President be put to a popular vote of all Europeans? Doesn’t this seem the fairest system?

But consider if all 500 million people voted for this person, it is likely to have quite unforeseen results. Obviously with thirty odd countries, there is little chance of electing a candidate from one’s own country. Someone well known in one country could be unknown elsewhere. Nationalists are often popular — at home. Most nationalists would be disappointed in Europe, even frustrated. This category includes many politicians who know how to use the national card when their arguments at home are weak.

A successful nationalist or populist in one country is regarded as the person most to avoid next door. Why? — because the neighbouring country is usually the target of the abusive nationalistic invective. Populist politicians will simply not gather enough votes throughout Europe. And voters in general in one country may look down on the neighbouring country’s citizens, thinking of them as inferior. How could they put up with such a transparent political manipulator? The best thing, some people may think, would be to steer clear of anyone in the least political. Is this possible?

It is not very likely that governments dominated by parties would ever agree to a system where politicians were treated as suspect or second class candidates. But let’s dream. Maybe one day they would respect the treaties they signed. What would happen if candidates were to be largely non-party political? Who would be elected? Probably the most handsome or the most beautiful candidate! That assessment is based on political facts. One prime minister is alleged to have wanted to have a photographic array of beautiful girls as his party’s candidates for the European elections! Coming from one of Europe’s major States, this is an appalling example of political cynicism — and exploitation. Do Europeans want the main representatives in the Commission and Parliament to be handsome airheads, of questionable character, manipulated by powerful, hidden forces?

Who are Europe’s most popular non-politicians? Who have the greatest public exposure in Europe, filling untold column-inches of newspapers and time on TV and videos on the Internet? The people most well known across Europe are maybe footballers or film stars. On the basis of being best known, this is the category that might well get elected!

Here we come to another big problem. There is no indication that Europe’s most popular personalities have adequate background to deal with the complexity of 27 or more States, multiple languages and complex issues such as Climate Change and the Energy and financial crises. Without adequate character and experience, they would be the puppets of a bureaucracy. The most technically qualified and experienced potential candidates could well be the most unknown people in Europe.

It is not to denigrate the voters in the USA, but a photogenic appearance is often deemed the most important factor there, given the preponderance of video communications, TV, Internet and speech-writers. Honest Abe Lincoln, known for his character but not his Hollywood looks, would have little chance today! People would say he looked suspect! A slick, photogenic fraudster with a powerful public relations machine would have greater chance of success.

But isn’t communication important too? Clearly. Let us assume we have a good-looking candidate that has mastered most of the European languages, would this be an ideal candidate? No. In fact it could be highly dangerous. An orator, perhaps with little government experience, who hypnotizes the electorate with emotive words like change, transparency and hope, but little substance, could lead the population fast in a wrong direction. We should be very cautious about silver-tongued orators without understanding, adequate experience or character.

What about a good-looking orator who has what appears good linguistic and communication skills and a powerful agenda about how to solve Europe’s problems? It may be someone with their own wealth and therefore, many may think, a person of complete independence.

This is extra dangerous. Because someone has money does not mean that they do not want more! Just speak to the guys who got burnt in the crisis of Wall Street and the City of London! Bonuses of millions were not enough for them. The big danger of people who come with ready solutions is that they may be well paid by a special interest group, a cartel or foreign money. Top politicians often work for such groups. The president-candidate could be a front person to make sure that a company or group, even foreign interests, got special treatment. The ready, and apparently plausible solution that they bring may have originated from the same biased or foreign source bent on domination. The gloss of presentation and silver oratory may be all public relations. The more silver the tongue may indicate the more dangerous the trap.

What is needed is someone who is impartial and will listen to all the minority groups that are affected by any European legislation. And by listening, that means taking them seriously, as the livelihood of poor people may be seriously affected. That’s why humility is a requirement.

So how can Europeans begin to choose such a person among the teaming millions of our citizenry? We will explore this question further next time.

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Comments

  1. I completely disagree with this article, of which only point is to say that nothing is possible, no change, even the realistic ones, can be made, the Commission must remain a cold machinery, politics must be kept out, citizens wouldn’t be able to choose a European leader…

    Following the same kind of arguments, we would abolish democracy in each Member State.

    What if we just tried ? What if we just gave it a chance, instead of doing nothing but believing that the EU failure is our only common purpose ?

    I invite you all to sign a petition to call for the creation of a European electoral constituency for 27 MEP seats to be created by the 2014 EP elections, like Andrew Duff proposed end 2008.

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/EuropeIsOurs/
    Also join the Facebook group
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=112620887041

    Don’t hesite to react / propose improvements. This project needs your support ! It is realistic, it costs nothing, but conservatisms of all kinds will find every argument to undermine it !

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

  2. The last thing I wanted to propagate is that citizens should not have a major role in the election of the Commission. The Community is built for Europeans. But it is not working properly today. The distortions must be exposed and removed. The first step is to understand how it was originally designed and how politicians like de Gaulle tried to distort or destroy it. Bandaging won’t work.

    A fully working supranational Community system gives citizens a MAJOR democratic voice in all aspects of Community institutions and in European legislation. The coming articles will show how Governments should also have a major role and all citizens whould be eligible for such posts. A fully working European system should safeguard against corruption and the potential take-over (whether secretly or openly) of institutions by cartels or any undemocratic interest groups.

    Stay with the Debate!!!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

  3. Appropriately enough, the anti-spam word that the system generated for this post is ‘whoa’.

    Please see my response to your earlier post.

    As General De Gaulle himself would have said about your ideas: “Vaste programme”.

    It pains me to have to say it, but you do not have any command of the subject on which you have chosen to contribute.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. ‘Whoa’ was also the word I used to describe a halt to the Council’s anti-democratic trends and proclivities.

    There is a vast difference between the approach of de Gaulle and the democratic one of Robert Schuman. I believe de Gaulle saw some writing by soldiers during the war announcing ‘Death to stupid fools!’ . He replied ‘Vast programme’.

    Schuman in effect tried to do the opposite — he tried to bring peace in Europe. He succeeded. We are now living in the longest period of peace in all Western Europe’s history. This effort is an even vaster programme than exterminating fools. If you allow fools and stupid egotistical politicians to survive, even prosper, you have to create a way to allow a wise and true democracy to develop to avoid tyranny. Schuman announced this vast programme for peace right after the war, for example at the United Nations in 1947 and again in 1948 and in many other speeches. He was the minister who brought into effect, and he developed the institutions (in embryo) to sustain a truer democracy.

    I would ask any politician who wants to change the Community system to first explain how the Community brought this peace before he or she suggested half-baked ideas about how to “improve” it. So far I am still waiting……

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

  5. Sorry David,

    I hadn’t realised how sickening your approach is.

    “All politician are corrupt, true democracy is the rule of independent experts and technocrates. Governments and decision makers should no longer be elected, but appointed by experts…”

    Sorry, I really don’t find this topic relevant. This approach is completely childish!
    If you want to undo democracy, where governments (and above all heads of government) results from elections, then start at national level.

    Nobody wants a technocratic Europe. Me included. Better no Europe at all than the rule of so-called virtuous and independant experts. And I’m what they use to call a Euro-enthusiast.

    Last thing: nobody still believes in the hachneyed idea that Schuman brought peace in Europe. It is pathetic to repeate it from article to article. No European believes a single word of it, even in countries like mine where all politician of each side repeate that constantly. Neither did Schuman save peace in Europe, nor did Sarkozy in Georgia last summer.

    That’s why I believe there should be some form of single constituency in the EU, which should lead to let the people choose between different European political offers (because the EU actually deals with politics, not with daily life / shopping decisions) and elect a EU commission or council president.
    Just like a European constituency to elect 10 to 100 MEPs, alongside with the usual national / regional constituencies.
    (but apparently I didn’t convince anybody with this idea :()

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

  6. Meric
    I don’t know where on earth you got the quotation from that
    “All politician are corrupt, true democracy is the rule of independent experts and technocrats. Governments and decision makers should no longer be elected, but appointed by experts…”

    This is certainly NOT my opinion. It is the opposite of what I am saying.

    I have merely pointed out that some politicians, as well as some human beings, have a tendency to corrupt matters. This is the lesson of history. Democrats have to defend their democracy against corruption and tyranny. This requires both vigilence and a system that works to correct abuse.

    In the case of supranational democracy the first duty of the citizen is to understand how the system is designed to work and what it is supposed to do.

    Schuman’s stated goal was to make sure that a technocratic Europe in the hand of technocrats and hidden committees did not happen. He wanted all decisions to be subject to the maximum amount of democratic control, down to the individual objection to violation of his/her rights. Have you heard this from the publications of the EU????? If not, why not?

    The Community system is based on European democratic control ONLY in areas where the citizens and interest groups (consumers, producers, workers) have agreed to it. It is not a macro-federal system that is designed to control all aspects of people’s lives.

    Supranational democracy is a complete break with history, those other hackneyed systems that only brought Europe WAR, slavery and poverty. Please refer to the earlier commentaries in this series.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

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