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European elections? Why European ? What's European about them?

by David Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 05:10:35 AM EST

From june 4th to june 7th, the European voters of are called upon to elect the European Parliament in the 2009 European elections. Is that really so? Is there anything like ,,European elections"?

No. The elections to the European Parliament are all but European elections. What is taking place are in reality 27 national elections, in which 27 times national voters elect their 27 national groups of representatives to the European parliament. Elections to the EP are nothing but  27 national and independant elections, being conducted around the same week-end. Accordingly there are also 27 different but relevant national electoral laws. The European law sets only an absolute minimum of common rules. It e.g. determines the total number of delegates in the European parliament, their distribution on the 27 member states, allows citizens of European member states residing in another member state to run as candidate and to vote. For all the rest, there is only the blue sky of national constitutions as limit for the national legislator to regulate, to influence and even to hinder the process of the election to the European Parliament. The European Directive on the election of the European Parliament  is so unambitious in its aspiration to create a genuine European procedure for the election of the European Parliament, that the European Commission does not even esteem necessary to hold a collection or even an overview of the 27 national electoral laws. Apparently, it does not even consider it necessary to gather information about possibly existing common principles for parliamentarian elections in all member states with a view to streamline those in one of their so typical harmonization procedures in the interest of electing a European Parliament representing European political will . Harmonization policy, so consistently implemented in the economic sector, without any consideration for national characteristics or needs, in order to achieve free and as unregulated as possible competition, seems to be irrelevant when it comes to the constitution of an organ of the European Union. Civil law, corporate law, penal law, bank law... the member states must adapt them to European standards. When it comes to the election of the European Parliament... everything is fine, acceptable, one national procedure is as good as any other.

The electoral laws in the different member states are accordingly extremely varied. In some states only national parties, in others also simple voters lists, or again in others also parties from other member states are admitted to participate in the election. In some member states, there are many constituencies, in others only one. In some states, it requires 160,000 supporters' signatures for bringing a new party on the electoral ballot, in others none. In some countries these signatures must be confirmed by the electoral authority in a written procedure, in others the signing must be done before the electoral authority or in presence of a sollicitor, in others  any signature without validation is accepted. In some countries the participating parties or voters' list must pay a securitiy deposit, whose sum can go from small go to substantial. In one country (France) the official hurdles are very low, however the parties must pay the printing costs of their ballots, which amounts  to, the number of voters being 47 million, over a million euro.  

To put it bluntly : In some cases,the basic purpose of national electoral laws is to limit competition in politics. New parties are to be kept outside the political arena. If we consider the case of Italy : Five electoral districts, in each of which  35,000 signatures must be collected, just for the privilege of being put on the official ballot. And each signature must be authenticated by a notary,the new party carrying the authentication fees. The simple aspiration to participate in an election is therefore extremely time and money consuming.

The time available for the collection of the signatures is, again, different  from member state to member state, but, for once a rather common principle, relatively short. Only after designation of the candidates in the party instances, which is possible at the earliest six to eight months before the election date, the new party can start the campaign for collecting signatures.  The signatures must be gathered from one to two months before the election.

Compared to Italy or also Denmark, where 70,000 voices are necessary, the situation is almost too good to be true in Germany:  Either 2000 signatures per regional list (16) or 4000 signatures for the federal list. Any party not being able to gather that amount of supporters` signatures would anyway have no reason to nurture any hope of achieving a 5% election minimum election result in order to send candidates to the EP.

What is not forseen and even forbidden according to the national electoral laws is ... a European party. Isn't that strange ? The object of the election is the constitution of an European Union institution ...  and only national parties are allowed to nominate  candidates ? Which means, parties, which in their member structure, program, objectifs, awareness and consciousness  are national, which lack understanding of European politics ; whose members in general have very little European background. Why should a national party, for instance, stand up for a Common European international policy, by nature and definition restricting national sovereignity in foreign affairs, if the national minister for foreign affairs, thus losing influence and clout, were member of that party? Why should a national party stand up for the emergence of European parties, thus creating future competion in up-coming European elections ?

Maybe this explains the low quality policy output of the EP. It is not the fault of the acting persons, even if national parties use the EP gladly to dispose of politicians that have failed on national level[1]. The problem is structural. Let's take an informed guess on the number of different parties represented in the EP: From Germany six. From France (probably )six. From Great Britain (probably)  four. If we calculate on the basis of four parties per member state, we get a result of 108 parties represented in the EP. The fact that these 108 parties regroup in parliamentary groups within the EP does not resolve the dilemma. Because their political platform, even for European politics, is national ; it was written and voted on nationally. Candidates from 108 different parties were sent to the EP with 108 different programs. With 8 parliamentary groups, each of the mis composed of 13 parties (on average). Can it really be a surprise that the smallest common denominator is indeed tiny, thus impeding any relevant political initiatives from within the EP?

Democracy in Europe will only be feasible if the European parliament is elected by all European voters in a single trans-european election, acquiring a trans-european legitimacy and in consequence becoming possibly the source of a truely European political will, which will be all but just the smallest common denominator of the programs of more than one hundred national parties. Then and only then will the elections of the European Parliament have become genuine European elections. The present system is a pure labelling fraud, masking the sad truth of national parties' monopoly of the European political system.  

Harald Greib*
St Jean de Fos - France


*Harald Greib is Vice-President of Newropeans and the author of "Berlin mit Bitte um Weisung" a European story published by MDV 2006.


[1] Most recent cases in Germany: Friedbert Pflüger, failed in Berlin; Monika Hohlmeier, failed and abhorred in Bavaria. Europeans can expect to see them back on track and well paid in Brussels and Strasbourg starting June 2009.



Our two first lists of candidates for june 2009 European elections have been elected for Germany and Italy.

But Newropeans needs to collect signatures from citizens from these two countries to be allowed to present these lists of candidates:  
4000 signatures are requested in Germany before the end of February 2009.
175000 signatures are requested in Italy before the end of April 2009.

In both of these countries Newropeans has real chances to have elected candidates.  



GERMANY: You live or have friends who live in Germany. We need people to certify signatures collected in their own city next to their city councils. Wish to help. Contact: Margit Reiser-Schrober: mreiser-schober@newropeans.eu  
See the list of candidates for Germany here: http://newropeans-auf-den-stimmzettel.pbwiki.com/

ITALY: You live or have friends who live in Italy. We need people to collect signatures physically. Wish to help. Contact: Diego Malcangi dmalcangi@newropeans.eu
See the lists of candidates for Italy here:

Franck Biancheri
President of Newropeans



Die Kandidaten unserer ersten beiden Listen für die Europawahlen im Juni 2009 sind in Deutschland und Italien gewählt worden.

Damit diese Listen in ihren jeweiligen Ländern zur Wahl zugelassen werden, benötigt Newropeans:
4.000 Unterstützerunterschriften in Deutschland (bis Ende Februar 2009).
175.000 Unterstützerunterschriften müssen in Italien bis Ende April 2009 vorliegen.

In beiden Ländern hat Newropeans reelle Chancen, ins EU-Parlament zu kommen.  

Im Moment ist unsere größte Aufgabe also DIE NOTWENDIGEN UNTERSCHRIFTEN ZU SAMMELN!


DEUTSCHLAND: Du wohnst in Deutschland oder hast dort Freunde? Wir brauchen Leute, die die gesammelten Unterschriften auf dem zuständigen Einwohnermeldeamt beglaubigen lassen. Wenn Ihr helfen wollt, kontaktiert bitte: Margit Reiser-Schrober: mreiser-schober@newropeans.eu
Hier könnt Ihr die Liste der deutschen Kandidaten sehen:

ITALIEN: Du lebst in Italien oder hast dort Freunde? Wir benötigen Helfer die persönlich Unterschriften sammeln. Wenn Du helfen willst, nimm Kontakt mit Diego Malcangi dmalcangi@newropeans.eu auf.
Hier kannst Du die Liste unserer italienischen Kandidaten einsehen.

Franck Biancheri
President of Newropeans

Good luck, I absolutely agree with this.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 01:26:42 PM EST
I see pros and cons to European parties, as much as in the current system, but I would like to know what NE stands for and who the candidates are before I recommend anything.

The NE site seems to have a problem and reloads continuously, so I couldn´t get much info.  Would you add links in English, please?  And maybe add the links to any previous posts here to get the full picture.  


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 06:53:08 PM EST
Agreed.  In principle, I agree with the idea of a pan European party,but that doesn't absolve it from having to have a coherent policy platform which people can debate and agree or disagree with.

Are Newropeans in favour of Lisbon, social market, common taxation systems?

I could see the Newropean party  - the blues - becoming the new greens of European politics - initially including quite a wide range of ideological positions, but focusing on blue rather than green issues as their core values and unifying factors.

Are you planning to run candidates only in Germany and Italy?

What about the Libertas stated intention to run in 27 countries?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 08:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
What about the Libertas stated intention to run in 27 countries?

Does it have any organisation outside Ireland? Otherwise, it is not going to happen.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 08:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is a mixture of hubris and pious aspiration, but they will try to build alliances with like minded nationalist and neo-liberal groups however small and then blame "euroregulations" and bureaucracy for preventing them from running candidates everywhere - forgetting of course - as this diary make clear - that the conduct of elections is entirely a national prerogative with the EU playing almost no regulatory role.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 08:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Franck and all,

Thanks for your comments. It seems indeed Newropeans' website had some rest today, maybe because we're sunday...
But here I found the link towards Newropeans' programme here:

but Newropeans' core programme to democratize the European Union is really the 'heart' of Newropeans' project. Our goal is to democratize the EU, and this is a full job to do over the next decade at least...
So here are Newropeans' 16 proposals to democratize the EU here:

Now regarding this small foreword I can answer your questions.
Lisbon, Newropeans is against the EU constitution which is exactly the same thing than the treaty of Lisbon because people voted now in 3 countries... and probably more if you consider that National parliaments don't represent well people in lots of European countries... See the Parliament in France who agreed to the EU constitution at 90% when French people voted against..

Social market. Newropeans wants to preserve the European social model as Europeans people want!

Common taxation system: Newropeans is in favor of a European tax directly paid by European citizens to finance the EU. This would not be a tax in more but a new way to finance the EU, make European citizen feel directly involved in the EU, and prevent this kind of wild deals one can see between national governments at the last 2007 - 2013 budget voting!? Governments and national parties are only behaving egoistically to preserve their self national interests.. nothing more..

And when they play the game of the EU it's only to state then than they have no choice but to go in the way Brussels decided while they've been directly associated through the European Council and with the European commission to these European laws and directives..
Newropeans is totally opposed to this decide without people way of proceeding!! And one of its 16 proposals is to give the EU parliament the right of initiative to propose laws. Which is the only right of the European Commission (which is also part of the executive power in Europe, another unique situation in our European democracies...)

We're planning to run in several countries, candidates have already been elected for Germany and Italy for collecting signatures reason.. others candidates will be announced in the weeks to come for France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Slovakia

by David (dcarayol at yahoo.fr) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 03:52:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks.  I'm not sure I agree with your opposition to Lisbon and to requiring a majority by referendum in each 27 member states because the requirement for unanimity makes all change and adaptation to changed circumstances all put impossible.

However I would be happy with a referendum in all 27 member stares if (say) a two thirds majority of citizens and a four fifths majority of member states was all that were required for constitutional change.

It is not sufficiently democratic to give e.g. Malta - a right to block all change - that tilts the balance too far towards conservatism and stasis.

However we do desperately need greater popular involvement in decision making and so the idea of popular referenda in all 27 member states is a good one - provided 51% of Malta is not sufficient to block all change.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 04:08:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Frank,

Here is the content of Newropeans' proposal on the trans-european referendum:

2. Ratify systematically the main changes of community treaties, and in particular enlargements by trans-European referenda.

To allow citizens to decide the main future orientations of the EU
to avoid having an elite, disconnected from the citizens and peoples, impose its choices. These trans-European referenda will use a double majority in order to ensure democratic respect of minorities: more than 50% of the votes cast across the whole of the EU and more than 50% of the Member States voting in favour would be necessary to secure passage of a proposal.

As you can see one country can not block the others.

by David (dcarayol at yahoo.fr) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 04:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi David,

Many thanks.  If anything, your proposal will be unacceptable to some smaller member states, for precisely the opposite reason!  I.e. it reduces their power of veto too much!

The big problem with ANY change right now is that it requires the unanimous agreement of ALL member states (however their view is arrived at - by plebiscite, or by parliament) and there is no credible reason why smaller member states should agree to the removal of their veto powers when that is the one power that places them on a par with larger states.

In a perverse way, the Irish NO to Lisbon campaign, whilst claiming to want a more democratic EU, actually want a LESS Democratic EU, and oppose Lisbon because it provides for greater weighted majority voting, and greater consolidation of powers at President of the Council and EU High Representative for CFSP level.

The President of the Council is currently rotated between ALL member states on the basis of Equality.  Under Lisbon, it might be expected that both posts will be dominated by nominees from the larger states.

So the problem becomes:  If the EU cannot secure agreement even for the minor increases in weighted majority voting and strengthening of EU institutions as contained in Lisbon, what chance is there of achieving unanimity on the double majority system you propose?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 05:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would like to kindly notice that, if you consider the referenda in the 3 countries which voted for the EU Constitution as one pan-european election, then the treaty should be approuved, because the sum of Yes vote has been higher than the no vote when adding the 3 countries together.

That would indeed be an actual european decision...

PS: I know that a lot of french left wing parties are quite sensitive to the debate on the constitution. I feel it wrong, because a constitution is only what people make  out of it, with or without an actual text or document. If you consider important to defend a specific policy on that point, that's up to you. But i feel you energy would be much better used elsewhere.

by Xavier in Paris on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 04:12:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Xavier and merci for your comment

This vote was not pan-european, there were distincts votes not even referendum in 80% of the members states... These votes were made by parliamentaries which in their majority voted yes when (like forecast in France, Holland, Ireland, Germany... ) when people were in majority against!?
A Newropeans' request would have been to have a referendum the same day in all member states with the same question, YES or NO, as a treaty like enlargments are important decisions for which Europeans have to be consulted.
Not sure the constitution would have been more successful this way... and if yes then Newropeans would have been in favor of it.. because people would have decided to vote YES! Simple.. Democracy..
No more no less... no left or right approach... just democracy.

by David (dcarayol at yahoo.fr) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 04:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My question is a bit more precise: If such an election took place, would you yield to the global result, whichever results the local vote in your own country had been.

If yes, then welcome to a truly pan european federal state (and election).

If not, you're simply transferring the usual government veto mode to a more popular basis, without modifying the way Europe is considered (and decided upon).

I don't know where your party is located, but I feel that in France, a lot of left wing parties are positioned on the second one, which is no different than the classical euroskeptic defense of unanimity.

by Xavier in Paris on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 10:54:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Found some info on wikipedia.

Newropeans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Newropeans calls for increased democratisation of the EU. They want an elected Union government, the ratification of changes to EU treaties by referendum and a unified immigration policy. Its programme is also in favour of decentralisation and restructuring of the institutions which are mainly concentrated in Brussels, but also spread among Strasbourg and Luxembourg. The party wants to ground the European Union Budget on a direct tax instead of contributions by the treasuries of member states, and opposes the lifelong judicial immunity granted to EU officials. According to the official website, the party focuses mainly on reform of the EU system, and has currently little agenda beyond that.

And from there an official blog.

Newropeans in London - transnational european political movement for the democratisation of the EU - european party

Newropeans Newsletter
November 2007

Not updated since 2007.

So, I would say good goals (from wikipedia), and do give Newropeans a helping hand in registering so that they can at least run somewhere. And Harald, update the site and at links from there to sites needing signatures for registering.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 08:36:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for your wishes..
Our group in London was not the most active.. you know english people are not the most pro-european people...
by David (dcarayol at yahoo.fr) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 03:54:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The German Pirate Party is halfway to getting enough signatures. If you are a german citizen or resident you  can add one here: Formular Europa.

But yeah, registering is in many countries a hassle and it is so to preserve insider advantage.

FYI: Sweden demands no registering for running in elections, though the voting is doen by taking your partys ballot, checking one candidate for preferential vote (not mandatory), placing it in an envelope and dropping it in the urn. So a new party needs to provide and distribute ballots to every poll station. And since poll stations are closed until the election starts, that means distributing everything on the morning of the election. A bit of a economic challenge and a serious logistical challenge for a new party.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 08:20:37 AM EST
and you know in my country in France a party willing to present candidates has to finance itself the printing of ballot papers... that means for 47 millions potential voters, a cost of 1 200 000€.
And this is the only European country in this case... VIVE LA DEMOCRATIE PAR L'ARGENT!!!
by David (dcarayol at yahoo.fr) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 03:58:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Ireland political parties get a state subvention approximately proportionate to the number of votes they received in the last election....

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 4th, 2009 at 05:34:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden, both of these are true. If a new party gets more then 1% it gets the money for the ballots back, and free ballots (with distribution) the next time around. Still an obstacle the gives a certain inside advantage. Though it is much worse in Denmark.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 08:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem in Denmark is not so much getting on the ballot. That actually happens with some regularity. The problem is mainly with the fact that our press suffers severely from Beltway Disease (the parts of it that aren't out-and-out bought and paid for, that is). Essentially, when an insider does something, it's news - and when an outsider tries to do the same thing, it's a joke.

There are ways to get around this insider advantage, but they mostly involve buying news (usually by paying an a lobbyist to plant the story - since he's an insider, that makes the story important), which is, ultimately, something only another brand of insiders can do.

In this respect it's instructive to compare and contrast New Alliance and the Minority Party. Both were assembled kind of haphazardly, neither had much of a program - nevermind a coherent one - outside their dislike for collaboration with the Popular Party and neither made a terribly competent impression. But New Liberal Alliance had three fairly prominent MPs and were bankrolled by a number of high-profile biznizmen (oligarchs might be a better word).

Guess which one's in parliament at the moment...

Oh, and guess which one had to rely on astroturfing because they didn't (and AFAICT still don't) have anything in the way of feet-on-the-street organisation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 5th, 2009 at 05:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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