Thursday, June 4, 2009

Boycotting European Parliament elections

I see that voting is underway for the European Parliament, described in this BBC report as "the EU's most powerful legislative body", amid concern over low turnout. What at least seems clear from my vantage in ths US is that the EU is a project of European governing elites and is viewed with suspicion, if not disgust, by European populations. No matter how the EU's elections and political offices may be structured it must be inevitable that voters will find their control through the ballot box over laws and policies under which they will have to live diluted compared to what they enjoy with respect to their national governments. The situation is not helped, however, by a complex structure in which policy preferences of ordinary citizens can be overwhelmed by internal political dynamics; i.e., the working out of factional differences of the government insiders.

Of course, my own government was originally designed mostly by European aristocrats with some purposefully undemocratic features so I don't mean to strike a pose of American superiority here. I just want to register my sympathy to those Europeans struggling to impede the consolidation of undemocratic elite power under the deceptive guise of electoral democracy.

From the BBC report there is this statement attributed to Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer:
"One cannot complain of the EU being undemocratic and at the same time refuse to go to the polls"
Actually it is perfectly consistent to make such complaints while demonstrating one's dissatisfaction with the process by way of boycott. I recommend persistent complaining and boycotting as the most promising way to gradually force improvement in the EU government. Good luck to my European friends.

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