European Elections

A democratic procedure for all citizens

, by Sotiriou Sotiris

European Elections

The European Parliament is the directly-elected EU body with legislative, supervisory and budgetary responsibilities, which consists of 751 members from all the member-states of the European Union according to its population. It was established in 1952 as the Common Assembly of the European Coal & Steel Community. In 1962 it was converted to European Parliament(<parler(fran) which means speak, discuss, signaling that it was to be a forum for debates, political discussions and exchange of ideas) and in 1979 the first elections were held in the Union.

The turnout back then surpassed the 60%, while the European Economic Community consisted of 9 member-states. However, in all of the next elections the turnout was steadily diminishing. The elections are held every 5 years and the citizens are called to vote for their representatives. Thus, the European Parliament has mainly an important representative role.

That democratic procedure is one of the most debatable and controversial issues in our Union and each and every country has its own perspective for this process and its own participation. That opinion is present in the statistics of the participation of the European nations in the elections. The last elections were in May 2014 and the next are approaching, being held in 2019. Is the European population ready to vote, to support the Union, to pass its message, to legitimize its representatives?

That period from 2014 until today is a difficult period for the EU, which is going through an existential crisis, as it is searching for its real face, role, existence. Simultaneously, there is the dominant issue of the dispute between the national sovereignty and the supranational characteristics. Important events have taken place in the EU, such as:

  1. the refugee crisis and the intense phenomenon of migration,
  2. the BREXIT, namely the first voluntary leaving of a member-state by activating the article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union,
  3. the populism and the extremism of parties with an anti-European orientation in many European countries during their national elections,
  4. the economic crisis and the inequality, which oscillates the societies and the unemployment in the European continent.

All the above are serious problems in the process of European integration and they should be combated in order to improve the situation in the Union and to make the citizens trust the European idea again, and to not jeopardize the importance of the existence of that Union.

The refugee crisis is an issue that causes changes to all member-states, as they were not ready to take such a great deal of immigrants. It was the southern states especially, which took the burden of the social integration and the acculturation of the refugees and the asylum-seekers, which were hit by the fallout. The elation of that phenomenon has led to populist leaders of political parties with xenophobic intentions, who try to impose their values to the to political scene.

Thus, the existence of extremist political formations in the national elections is a burden to the entire process. Also, the refugee crisis and the intensity of political characteristics in the Union were the priming for the BREXIT. The collapsing of the European family also as an important issue, which proves some weaknesses in our Union. The economic crisis, the unemployment, the inequality and the polarization in the society, which began from 2008 with the financial crisis that broke out in Lehman Brothers, may be improved, although it continues to incommode the EU.

All these problems burden the European society and remove the citizens from the significant aim of the EU, as they are becoming more and more hostile to the idea of assignment of powers. By not caring about the European Union and its future and considering that the European elections are elections of minor importance, citizens refrain from participating in the elections, causing the highlighting of the problem of legitimacy.

The citizens are the heart of our Union, the basic element of the organization, and they are called to vote for their representatives in order to obtain a common voice in the international scene. Thus, all the citizens from all the member-states ought not to underestimate that procedure. They should vote in order to support their own right. It is in our hand to change our Union, as by voting we have the ability to decide those who will act for us and who will set the common good as the first priority.

In conclusion, in the last period there was a rising issue, namely that of the supranational lists in the European elections, a proposal of the French president Macron in the framework of reforming the Union. That initiative is a step to a more supranational Union, but the result showed that some appropriate measures should be taken earlier. That innovative idea was proof of the existence of visionary politicians and citizens who fight to strengthen the Union and to proceed to the further integration.

Although that idea was rejected as it was considered to be an opportunity for the populist politicians, it is believed that with the adoption of the supranational lists the members of the EP will turn away from the electorate.

To sum up, the European elections are an important process that puts the citizens in the centre of the European idea and reminds them that they constitute the Union, they have rights and they are the main player in all the procedures. Thus, we ought to vote, to pass our message, to strengthen the democratic governance in the EU and to support the legitimization. An active Union needs active citizens!

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