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How the turnout at European elections could be much higher...in 2014 - The Euros
nterview with Simon Hix on the European elections and the shortcomings of the current campaign

Simon Hix is a leading expert of the European Parliament and European elections. His call for more politicization at the European level in order to increase participation stirs the debate about the democratic deficit. In his talk to the `Euros' at the London School of Economics, he emphasized that slight changes to the European elections voting system and to the way European parties lead their campaigns would be sufficient to make the European elections a genuine contest for political alternatives at the European level. In his lively and inspiring manner, he told us about how MEPs perceive their role, about his misunderstandings with British journalists and how the European Parliament should engage in the election of the Commission President. If he was an MEP, we would surely vote for him...

The Euros: Mr Hix, in February, the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, gave a controversial speech at the European Parliament which incited some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to leave the hemicycle. He claimed that there was a lack of political alternatives at the European level. Furthermore, he argued that the strengthening of the European Parliament could not resolve the democratic deficit but would rather further alienate citizens from the decisions taken in Brussels. If you had been an MEP, I guess you would not have left the hemicycle, would you?

"It's healthy for European democracy that there are people like Klaus", says Simon Hix.

During Václav Klaus' speech a number of MEPs left the hemicycle to demonstrate their disagreement.

Simon Hix: You are right, I wouldn't have left. Despite the fact I disagree with Klaus I think it's healthy that there is a more open public debate about Europe. Although I would like to see more debates about the choices of the future of Europe with a more centre-left Europe or a more centre-right Europe, part of the debate inevitably is what kind of Europe in terms of its design we want. So I think it is healthy for European democracy that we have people like Klaus saying what he says and people having the right to reply to that. And people like Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, who has actually been a very good and a very effective MEP in terms of articulating the views of a wide section of the European public. So I would not have left the hemicycle, although I disagree with what Klaus said.

by Fran on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 01:56:01 PM EST
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