January 24, 2014
‘A political party is a political organization. It typically seeks to influence, direct, or entirely perform government policy; usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate inelectoral campaigns, awareness outreach, or protest actions. Parties often espouse an ideology or vision, expressed in a party program, bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests.’ – Wikipedia, first paragraph under Political Party
‘A European political party (formally, a political party at European level; informally – especially in academic circles – a Europarty) is a type of political party organisation operating transnationally in Europe and in the institutions of the European Union. They are regulated and funded by the European Union and are usually made up of national parties, not individuals. Europarties have the exclusive right to campaign during the European elections and express themselves within the European Parliament by their affiliated political groups and their MEPs. Europarties, through coordination meetings with their affiliated heads of state and government, influence the decision-making process of the European Council. Europarties also work closely and co-ordinate with their affiliated members of the European Commission and, according to the Lisbon Treaty the Europarty that wins the European elections has the right to nominate to the European Council its candidate for President of the European Commission.’ – Wikipedia, first paragraph under European Political Party
We’re closing in to the European Elections. Soon, very soon, I will be one of the people of Europe voting for their future. And I have a problem.
My problem is that most of those that presumably are going to run for a MEP position are people that come from established Romanian parties. Some will be new faces I presume, but people that have party affiliation none the less. One of parties in Romania has set up a platform to select 10 candidates for the EP from those under 35. Good initiative, demanding strategy and objectives from each potential candidate, with a selection process that starts with people voting online for their favorites, top candidates then being selected for the following stages of party selection. And I was excited about it, only to become less excited when realizing that you had to be a party member outright or become one within the application procedure. Which means that this whole project is in fact under party discipline, with those from the political youth organization having a clear edge over everybody else.
And it bothers me that what I will be asked to vote on is not particularly projects or initiatives for Europe, but which local party will I empower to become relevant in Brussels. And I hate that, because that is not a choice. Romania has a lot of issues with or about local parties and their European vocation, and that makes my choice a limited one, limited because there are very few clear EU related goals that I get to choose from, and none of them are important to me.
What bothers me even more is that the way things are in Romania right now I can’t choose people. The whole country is just one electoral college, and we are voting on party lists. So even if there are one or two viable candidates on a list, I still have to vote for the others on that list as well. Then if the whole country is just one electoral college that means the people I send to the EP through my vote are never going to actually have a chance to get down on the ground and really talk to people, get their input or spread EU related information to them, the voters. What I am voting for is basically the creation of a cast of MEP’s that will be so far away from their voters, I’ll be lucky to see one of them in person once over the course of their mandates. I voted on the last EP elections and to this day I have not met one MEP. I’m friends with those I find relevant to my interests on FB, and that allows me to have a pretty good idea of what they are doing, but seeing them on the ground proves impossible.
So in face of all these issues, I have a couple of things I would like to see changed.
First off I’d like to have a real European choice – a European party with a branch here, that advocates EU related themes. That has goals and ambitions that are not limited to this or that country, but goals and ambitions for the entire EU. I want to see the debate translated from local issues artificially made European, to European issues, because I will be voting for the EP and not the local parliament.
I want to see fresh faces. I want to see people with EU related background, that understand the union, that speak the languages needed, that can present me with an option I can rally behind. I want accountability for these politicians and I want a chance to interact with them regularly. I want the opportunity to be consulted on major initiatives and I want these initiatives to be outside local party logic.
The EP is the next step. MEPs vote on issues that affect 507 million people. And I want them to know that they are not debating how this or that issue will be felt in their country of origin, but how it will affect everybody.
I want to see campaign trailers and I want to see cross-border candidates. I want to see choice. That is what I want to see.
I want to have the opportunity to support causes that are larger than my bread buying routine. We have a local parliament that looks into that. What I need, what I want for Europe is a Parliament not of local parliaments, but a Parliament for the people, about the people, by the people.
More Europe, more democracy means choice. And I’m not sure if choosing which local parliament faction I upgrade is the choice I should be making.