Elections4 : Europe’s Double Crisis of Democracy — it’s sinking fast and the EP shuts its eyes to the catastrophe!
31, May, 2010
If you gained a 32.5% majority in any election, would you be pleased? No doubt. It is a resounding victory over your opponent.
Is the European Parliament boasting about the results in the June election of last year? Hardly. The majority of Europeans voted AGAINST the MEPs. They voted against the Parliament. They voted against the political parties as they are being now represented.
In effect the majority of 57 per cent of the voting population abstained. They listened to the radio, watched television received the political literature. Then they looked at the list of candidates.
They voted for NONE OF THE ABOVE on the ballot.
The European people have given a crushing vote against the political class and their actions. That appalling overall result includes the countries where voting is compulsory! They get fined if they do not vote! Yet many didn’t. These countries all showed an increase in citizens who refuse to vote. They are saying: ‘Go on, fine me or take me to court — the whole thing smells rotten!”
It’s far, far worse in countries where people are FREE TO CHOOSE. In Slovakia 80.4% abstained from voting for the EP. In Lithuania it was almost the same (79%). In Poland it was more than three out of every four electors who refused to vote. Is a 20% turnout what is likely to happen across the whole of Europe in the near future?
Isn’t this information shocking? Why am I writing about it now? Simply because the European Parliament have just published the results and those of a survey about last year’s elections. A bit late you might say. So would I. Are they worried? Not a bit of it!
This is what they say: “Even though the turnout in the EU 27 fell by two percentage points this year, it was a smaller downfall compared to previous election” of 2004. In other words the ship of democracy is sinking fast but it is sinking less rapidly. They don’t seem to care that the trend is strongly down to the bottom of the sea! The last air is now bubbling out of the luxury cabins.
The political parties don’t care. The politicians shrug their shoulders collectively: ‘Parliamentary elections are getting more and more irrelevant but people are getting used to the fact we turn them off. We still have a few that vote. The masses are not yet burning tyres in the street. Be cool!‘
This is how democracy is sinking into distrust and incoherence.
Election Year ……………………..1994 …..1999 …… 2004 . ….. 2009
Turnout drops ………………… 56.7%….. 49.5%…… 45.5% ….43%
Abstention rate increases 43.3% ….. 50.5% …. 54.5% …. 57%
The report does not reveal the embarrassing fact that ever since the politicians moved to a secretive intergovernmental system away from supranational democracy, voter turnout has continually dropped. In 1979 turnout was 63%, then in 1984 it fell to 61%, and to 58.5% in 1989 and so downwards, constantly and interminably.
So who is refusing to vote? Is it the older people who no longer vote? Not at all. There is a disastrous loss of young voters going to the polls. One in two of the older voters went to vote but in the 18-24 age group, only just over a quarter of the young voted (29%). That is a difference of 21 percentage points from the young to old. The trend is stark. The numbers of young electors who want to vote has dropped by a THIRD since the last election of 2004. Isn’t that a sign we are sinking deeper into a grave crisis?
The crisis of democracy is also apparent when voter background is viewed. The highest turnout comes from executives, managers and directors (53.5%). The lowest comes from unemployed 28%, students 35%, and manual workers 36%.
The most important group who should be represented in Parliament are those who are most likely to abstain. Two out of three people who find that that are in difficulty paying their bills at the end of the month do not vote.
And before the MEPs say that the non-voters are not interested in Europe, that is simply not true. One in two of the abstainers said they felt an attachment to Europe. Clearly they think something is seriously wrong, not with Europe, but with the voting and parties’ ‘democratic’ system. It is time that the MEPs took their responsibility seriously.
Instead of publishing how they can have a single European election instead of 27 national ones, the Parliament has published a Handbook for political parties about how to cheat in the European elections.
The failure of European citizens to go to the polls is a grave crisis that has to be tackled. Even worse is blindness that refuses to do anything about the catastrophe. The MEPs have lost sight of what a Community Parliament is all about. They are confused by the old forms of national political ping-pong that passes for democracy. How many of them are familiar with their responsibilities under the treaties? If they were why did they vote away their most important power — the power to dismiss the Commission? That is no longer possible!!
They haven’t fulfilled the most important requirement towards their electors. No wonder the electors are fed up! It has been more than half a century that the treaties have OBLIGED governments to have a single statute and a single election for all of the European Community area. The governments and all previous European Parliaments have FAILED to fulfill this duty. What is the point of voting for MEPs when voters are voting in 27 national elections. That is just a repetition of the same national elections. It doesn’t make sense. The voters know it doesn’t. Yet the governments insist of having 27 sets of national elections where each government fiddles the rules so that the governments parties get voted into the European Parliament. That is plain dishonest.
Every time when questioned just before the elections, politicians say ‘It is too late to organize a single European election, according to the treaties.‘ When they are elected MEPs never bother to take their duties seriously.
Is the European Parliament worried? Are the governments concerned about corrupt electoral practice? Obviously not. If they were they would have blazoned the democratic danger to everyone. Why release this poll months late? Why aren’t the governments making a fuss about the looming catastrophe of democracy? Because the present corrupt status quo suits them just fine.
Are the new MEPs worried? No, they are more interested about getting a large increase in personal expenditure that they voted. They are angling to get more party buddies in Parliament and making treaty changes without public approval and especially without another referendum in Ireland.
How do I know they don’t care? Because the above statistics — which are obviously at the core of public debates on representation and legitimacy — were buried in the survey so as to downplay their importance. The Press release is also rather dismissive of the importance and makes no mention of the catastrophe of confidence. Furious public distrust will not go away by ignoring it. No questions were posed about how the present Lisbon Treaty compares with the supranational democracy envisioned by the Founding Fathers. No questions were raised as to why the Parliament gave up its power to sack the Commission, thus entailing a new wave of corrupt practice.
Nothing was asked about what the Parliament had to do with the longest period of peace in Europe. Or why the Parliament refused to publish the Lisbon Treaty before it was voted. No questions were posed as to why the Europe Declaration declares that the people should be FREE TO CHOOSE and all this was arranged when the people in referendums said NO.
This is how the release presents the results to grab people’s attention of the democratic crisis:
“The European Parliament has published the results of its latest Europe-wide opinion poll into citizens’ perceptions of the Parliament and its activity. The poll shows tackling poverty, improving consumer and public health protection and fighting climate change were the top policy priorities of those who took part. The data collection took place during January and February. Following a number of polls in the run-up to and aftermath of the 2009 European elections, this is the first of the regular polls which will be run during the current parliamentary term.”
Ho- hum! That is the sort of vibrant press presentation you get when you place the statistics in the hands of the very people who are going to look bad if the results are exposed. They want to bury the results. They want to avoid embarrassment.
Just to show that they did not care two hoots about what the public said, thought or did about the results, they released the information late on Friday. They are probably sorry that had to publish the report at all.
They delayed and delayed. But they had to publish it eventually. They waited. Everyone is going home for the weekend. They probably thought: “No one will notice the double crisis of European Democracy and the blind plunge to electoral irrelevance.”
WHEN ARE EUROPEANS GOING TO HAVE THEIR FIRST EUROPEAN ELECTION — AS DESCRIBED AND MANDATED IN THE EUROPEAN TREATIES OF 1951 AND 1957???