Wednesday, May 13, 2009

EU elections: there is always time to scream!

Letter to the editor of the Japan Times sent on 12 May 2009:

Explaining the European Union to its citizens: a way forward.

The article « EU looks outward to create a better world” (May 11, 2009) was informative. I was pleased to read that diplomats from Member States’ embassies spare some time to explain the Union to Japanese school kids ("the EU comes to your school" project). Delightful.

How about starting a similar project targetting European citizens living in Japan? There is certainly a lot of explaining to do in the run-up to the parliamentary elections if turnout rates are to improve on the poor results of 2004 (45.47%). The latest opinion polls are hardly cause for optimism.

In 2009, the EU is unquestionably an economic giant but its standing as a showcase for democracy is more questionable. As more powers are being transferred to the Parliament (EP), less citizens appear to care about voting. A lower turnout would be disastrous for the EP's legitimacy.

The European construction has always been an elite-driven project. A lot of "top down-ocracy" rather than democracy... The referenda for its Constitution/Lisbon Treaty are quite revealing in this regard. Consultation with the citizenry was only meant to yield one result: the yes-vote needed by a leadership “who knows best”. The peoples said “no” (Ireland, Holland and France). Yet politicians didn’t listen.

There is something increasingly unbearable about the “top down-ness” of democracy à la EU. And frankly speaking, the glitzy €18 million elections campaign with one the silliest commercials ever produced (There is always time to vote. And scream!), can’t do much to motivate a generally disillusioned electorate. It did nothing for me.

Actually, I am a euro-enthusiast. But with no enthusiasm for the Europe now being dictated from above. Down here in Japan, will I have time to vote come June? “Niet!”. I say it in Russian because a French "non" will get little attention....

Poking fun at euroskeptics in the 2009 campaign...

Ok. Granted. The integration of European economies in the wake of WWII has brought peace, and it's fair to say that in itself, 50 years of peaceful coexistence is a tremendous achievement. The history of Europe is one of never ending feuds between nations. The question is whether the kind of centralised, bureaucratic Europe being built now is not undermining the ideal of a freer European space where citzens can shape their future, rather than it being shaped from above by "know-best-ocrats"!

On 04th June, other eurocitizens will choose too.

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