European democracy can just get better. We’ve been witnessing one of the most interesting US elections ever, that after over 2 years of campaigning resulted in Barack Obama becoming President. We have first followed a deeply political and tough internal debate within both camps and then a full-scale national campaign among the Democrats and Republicans. We have seen debate after debate, ad after ad, speech after speech…Many Europeans took it very personally. And have we learned something?
Well…ergh, little one would say. The 2009 will see the European Parliament elections and even before the campaign really heats up we already ended with a single candidate. The current President of the European Commission, JosÃ© Manuel DurÃ£o Barroso, got the backing from nearly everyone and opposition from few. Consensual politics, some might say, rubbish might say others.
The European Conservatives (=European People’s Party) have not surprisingly backed Barroso. But some of us might have expected at least the Socialists to try and gather support for an alternative (many have been floated: Pascal Lamy being a strong contender). However, with the Party of European Socialists meeting in Madrid these days, little agreement is to be found. Actually, on the most important issue – because politics in the end are about personalities – there was none. Recently even Socrates and Zapatero have supposedly expressed their support to Barroso – the first probably for domestic reasons (=keep Barroso away from Portugal), the second for pragmatic ones (=weak Commission is less annoying for Spain facing the breach of the Stability and Growth Pact). The Socialists will thus leave Madrid without a single candidate from the European left and therefore open the doors wide open to Barroso for a second term.
Others have criticised Barroso’s performance at the helm of the Commission, but this is not the point here. He might be good or bad, difficult to tell in European politics and certainly subject to a lengthy debate. But the fact that in 2008, after 50 years of existence, the EU politics are not able to face serious political confrontation, is rather disappointing.
Why should Europeans bother to vote, if there is no choice?
For those that care, visit http://who-is-your-candidate.eu/ – the campaign for a proper political contest.