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You are here: Home > Diritto di Voto / EU, Italy, Turin > EP2024_005: Last call - #European #Parliament #elections

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Published on 2024-05-31 20:45:00 | words: 1904

Rationale



Few days more before, at last, we have our 2024 European Parliament elections.

It has been a long, long campaign- that started really long before lists of candidates were announced.

No, it did not start with the "Spitzenkandidaten" announces few months ago- but much earlier.

Probably started when it became blatant that two of the leading incumbents at the European Union level aimed to be elected (or re-elected).

This quarter started in April 2024 with announces of a potential truce in Gaza, as well as a shift of tanks from Poland to the Suwalki Gap, answering a threat from Belarus, and an announce from a Member State that the security services of another Member State had reported that some European Parliament Members had been "influenced" by Russian money.

Not really quiet, ordinary times to have an election.

European Parliament elections, being held in what are basically still 27 semi-independent countries more or less at the same time still assume that are done at the national level, and are subject to significant local political pressure.

As I shared months ago, and repeated few articles ago even in this series, the issue in this case is that the selection is done mainly for national reasons, while right now we would need to have a joint focus from those elected across the European Union to develop a reasonable and reasoned consensus on what the European Union has to become.

Drifting along whatever tides happen internally (e.g. from the incumbent European Commission) or externally (e.g. other interested parties who have their own idea on what the role of the European Union should be- mainly a market) is not enough.

Probably, if the results of the negotiations on the evolution the European Union will start showing how some of those elected were not the right people at the right time, the european "political families" will beef up support, albeit will be difficult to keep communication aligned with the best intentions.

Just to remind: during the 2019-2024 term the European Union institutions made significant steps toward a shared set of initiatives that, instead of being the usual bartering, required delegating further powers at the supranational level, and there have been further demands to remove the veto from more decision-making areas.

Due to external and internal pressure, probably this trend will accelerate- hence, even more need for a reasoned (first) and reasonable (as a consequence of the routine, expected bartering) set of arrangements.

The key element to consider is that it does not really matter which one of the two largest families obtains a larger slice of the vote: actually, winning a majority, and not just a plurality, could quickly become a Pyrrhic victory.

Reason? Usually, winning a majority brings along some "bravado" on the negotiating table, while reforms such as those required within the next term will require something covering a much wider consensus- at the European Parliament as well as the National Government and Parliaments level.

For now... see you in two weeks.



Commentary







Yes, also the preamble of this article was part of the experiment, i.e. up to the EP2024_007 all the preambles were written as a single unit, covering up to one month after the elections.

Call it a crystal ball exercise.

The second part of the experiment was to add every two weeks a further 1,500 words (albeit often went beyond that- sorry), considering news observed and collected across two weeks, from the previous "episode" within the series.

This article will go online one week before the elections.

The timing of this article and the next one was obviously a choice, to have this article, then a week later the elections, then another week to look at the first results.

As you probably saw around Europe, if you bothered to look at newspapers' websites online, the perception of the value and impact of these forthcoming European Parliament election varies.

And having on our steps a war were we are more or less directly involved, and another one that probably will involve us for a long time is generating some curious side-effects, such as getting the "how" to partake in those wars, or how far we should or should not go.

You can agree or not, but at least what is doing the current debate is designing the boundaries for the first discussions that will probably affect the composition of the next European Commission, whatever the majority within the European Parliament.

Looking past the 75th anniversary of NATO, as well as on energy sources, and few other dossiers, how European Union integration will see increasing efficacy and efficiency by pooling resources under shared rules of engagement, instead of the usual contradicting and often competing approaches.

All contradictions that result in that old saying: the European Union is an economic giant and a political dwarf.

As part of language skills review, decided since earlier this week to have a look each day to a different documentary from a special series that Arté assembled for the European Parliament elections.

Sometimes the lead language of each documentary is German, sometimes French, but most with English subtitles and interviews in other languages- a quick way to have a EU view and recap of some key themes, steering away from the usual "who", and looking at "what".

From integration issues, to the side-effects of political choices over the last few years, to the relationship between Russia NATO Europe, to what Qatargate says in terms of transparency, conflicts of interest, and rule of law, it is a caleidoscope of EU themes.

Yes, sometimes selective, but anyway more useful than most articles I read recently (and not just on Italian newspapers).

Considering that the candidates have ben selected, now the focus of course is on what will happen next.

The French President Macron as well as the Italian President of the Council of Ministers Meloni said that discussion on who will get which seat at the top (Commission, Council, etc) will be discussed after the elections.

Anyway, in Italy we have an old tradition: kingmaking by leaks.

Or: presenting leaks (true or pretended) about names that have been pre-selected by those with actual power to make the choice chosen.

In Italy we have a saying "chi entra Papa in Conclave ne esce Cardinale", i.e. when somebody is announced as the confirmed next leader, after the decision making is done, re-enters the ranks (admittedly, not demoted but certainly not promoted).

And it seems that the way the incumbent President of the European Commission was selected followed that approach: the one who was supposed to have the role, as he had been selected as lead candidate from the political family that got most of the votes, had to take a step aside, for a President that was not even on the ballot.

Well, one of those documentaries from Arté, with the title "Endgame for Europe" has a funny cameo: a journalist reminding how the supposed pre-selection of the leader according to voters' choice did not work, and how the President of the Commission often behaved as if she were a queen, not President of the European Commission appointed for an executive role by a consensus of representatives elected in 27 countries.

Also the documentary on Qatargate and its meaning digs into other issues that should be of concern for the next European Parliament and European Commission: we Europeans preach and teach the world about something apparently we are less than inclined to apply, whenever convenient- from transparency, to avoidance of conflicts of interests, to rule of law and accountability.

The kingmaking by leaks had recently a curious turn, when former President of the Italian Council of Ministers Letta was disclosed as being considered preferable to another former President of the Italian Council of Ministers (and ECB) Draghi for the Council role.

True or false, frankly those touting former President Letta as a bridge-builder probably think about his uncle, who was covering that role all along the late President Berlusconi political career.

I think that President Macron's suggestion to talk about it later would be wiser: as it is not a matter of a single leader for a single leading role.

Like it or not (I do not), the European Union institutions have a plurality of Presidents, and therefore the lesson of the outgoing European Commission should be that when selecting one, you should better consider the "mix" you are selecting, along with the mix of Members of the Commission, having an eye also at the balance within the European Parliament, and keeping a bit of separation of powers.

Which was something debated and applied on the two sides of The Pond in two revolutions, in the late XVIII century.

I will never get tired to repeat: the next term of the European Parliament (and hence the next European Commission etc) will have to think what to keep and what to reconsider of the de facto changes that occurred since 2020, also if formally Treaties were not altered as much (in some cases, not at all, despite the expansion of powers).

Looking at my Linkedin stream, the posts from the European Commission sounded a bit like "do not have bread? give them brioche", i.e. ignoring an expansion of the democratic deficit with more announces about minutiae or reminders of what had been already in place for a while, but always avoiding to really open a dialogue on reforms with citizens.

Many of those minutiae were also heralded by media, such as getting a random sample of citizens to talk about the future of Europe.

Give transparency to all continuously, not limelight to few for a short while.

Next week probably there will be more last-minute adjustments to attract more votes, but what will matter is who actually will get to Brussels due to the elections.

At least in Italy, left centre and right put on the ballot too many "voters attractors" (which in some cases turn into carpet baggers- get elected, shine, and return to Italy to build a real political career).

And such a choice already converted the last weeks before the elections into a three-rings circus.

It would be better to see yet another sign of democratic deficit, but at last a positive one, if some of those elected who have nothing really to contribute except their own ego, once elected, were to step aside and leave their place to others in their list who actually could be useful for the forthcoming rounds of reforms and negotiations.

Yes, it will happen... when Hell freezes over.

Stay tuned...