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PETITION: For Truly European and democratic European elections!!

by David Sat Feb 14th, 2009 at 09:18:11 AM EST

You believed that European elections were European but did you know that a European party is forbidden in every member state of the European Union!?
You believed that they were truly democratic, but did you know that in France every party has to pay more than 1 million Euros to stand in these elections, that in Italy, Poland and Romania, every new party (not those parties already existing) must collect respectively 150 000, 130 000 and 200 000 signatures from citizens to be authorized to stand in EU elections?
I wish you knew... If not, read the following!


A true democracy in Europe will only be possible if the European parliament is elected by all European voters in a single trans-european election, acquiring a trans-european legitimacy and hence becoming the possible source of a truly 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 election of the European Parliament have become a genuine European election. The current system is a pure labelling fraud, masking the sad truth of national parties' monopoly of the European political system.

We European citizens and Newropeans, the first European citizen movement created to democratize the European Union, demand for the European elections to be truly European and democratic.
To do so:

   1. The European election must take place on the same day in every member state of the European Union.
   2. The implemented procedures for the election must be identical, guarantee the largest representativeness and not favour the biggest parties with unfair, biased and undemocratic methods: In particular methods of voting and proportionality methods must not favour the already existing larger parties if not fostering the smaller and new parties.
   3. The signatures requirement (if maintained) must be the same for every party from the same member state, this one being new or already established. The required number of signatures must be reasonable, based on a similar procedure within the European Union and this requirement must apply for each party (and not only the new ones).
   4. Materials of the election must be entirely financed at best by the European Union, or at least by every member state of the European Union: This to ensure a true and unbiased representativeness of independent parties, based on a similar access for each party.
   5. The legal civil age to participate to these elections, as a voter or as a candidate must be the same in every member state: This is the condition to ensure a homogenous representativeness within the European Union.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/democratic-european-elections.html

THE SITUATION TODAY

Truly European parties in every Member State of the European Union are prohibited!
Even for the European elections! Any political party needs to be a national party registered with the relevant national authority.
Consequences:

  • National parties remain Masters of the game and no decision fostering the interests of Europeans can be implemented. European policies are first national policies and each state defends first its own national interests without any common European vision.
  • The European Commission being appointed by chiefs of state and/or governments, any European decision is foremost the consequence of a dialogue between the executive powers of the Member States with a very limited role of the European Parliament (which has no right of initiative regarding new laws unlike in any 'real democracy', this right being the exclusive right of the European commission, composed of not elected appointed bureaucrats).

There are approximately 110 national parties (an average of 4 per country) with each their own programmes and no European coordination, those parties being distributed in 8 political groups in the European Parliament in June 2009. Each one with its own personal programme which differs greatly from one country to another and an absence of majority between parties supposed to have the same position to the European Parliament, which results in 'coalitions of circumstances' between groups of sensitivities supposed to be at the opposite.
Consequences:
  • A complete lack of clear political European direction and European citizens who absolutely do not recognise themselves in the decisions taken, these decisions being diluted in a weak Parliament between abstract political groups having the less common denominator.
  • A rate of participation at the European elections which does not cease dropping since the first election of the European Parliament in 1979. If the average of the EU was of 63% in 1979, it was no more than 45% in 2004 and similar among the larger country founders (39%, 42,7% and 43% in 2004 for the Netherlands, France and Germany).

No decision is taken by any Member State nor even by the European commission to change or to even denounce this complete lack of harmonization of this key event of the European democratic life: The election of the European Parliament.
Really weird when one knows with which energy the European commission harmonizes each field of the citizens' life: Economy and its excessive deregulation, civil law, company law, criminal law, financial right... No field can escape to its harmonization except the main one: The right to hold a truly European and thus democratic election, which is the only guarantee to have a true democratic representativeness of European citizens!
Consequence:
- Nothing changes, no big change can happen in the way the European Union operates, which causes the disinterest, mistrust and dissatisfaction of an increasingly larger number of citizens and caused (and will cause for sure others) the institutional crisis which we have been experiencing for 4 years now with the rejection of the Constitution and any other treaty of Lisbon.
NEWCOMERS BARRIERS ARE INCREASINGLY INSURMOUNTABLE FOR NEW PARTIES

A main characteristic of any democratic representation is to ensure the best possible representativeness of citizens with no regard to the size, the physical or financial importance of the movements. However certain Member States became experts to ensure themselves their supremacy in the existing order (their own order).

Main processes used:
The most widespread system in the European Union is the proportional one. But several levels of difficulties were artificially created by certain Member States to ensure the supremacy of the national main parties.

The way of voting (districts or not)
The choice of the ballot system is crucial. The weakest the magnitude (the number of seats concerned), the smallest the effect of the proportionality. To split the territory mechanically leads to disadvantage the smaller parties. Three countries traditionally use this process, United Kingdom, Ireland and Belgium (for the latter country, strong regional disparities justify such a process). A country at the origin of the creation of the EU decided to apply this method since the elections of 2004: France.

Blocked lists or open lists
A blocked list is a list in which the order of the candidates determined by the parties will necessarily be the order of elected candidates if the list gets enough votes. On the contrary a list which is not blocked (open list) allows voters to choose the order of candidates they wish to see elected, or even to choose to vote for several lists, which thus ensure a bigger freedom of choice to the voter.
While the majority of the EU member states countries apply a system of open lists, some countries use exclusively blocked lists: This is the case in Germany, Greece, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Estonia, Hungary and Poland.

The method of distribution used
The method of Hondt favours larger parties, especially when the magnitude (the number of seats to be provided) is low (case of ' small countries' or countries having several districts). This method is used by the majority of the Member States, two are also using a system of districts: France and the United Kingdom.
The Sainte-Lagüe method increases on the other hand the proportionality of the system and favours smaller parties: It is frequently used in the Scandinavian countries and in Sweden for the elections to the European Parliament.

The threshold to access to the representation
Besides, some member states implement a threshold to access to the representation: 5% in Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and France (for this last country a rate of 7% would be discussed), 4% in Austria, Sweden and under discussion in Italy, 3% in Greece. When the magnitude is important, in particular when the national territory constitutes a single district (France from 1979 to 1999), this threshold excludes from the representation a list which has however collected enough voices to get candidates elected.
When the magnitude is lower (France, 2004), the threshold of 5% only plays a theoretical role, because it is necessary in practice to collect a higher rate of votes to have candidates elected. The "effective threshold" is then higher than the legal threshold. For France for instance this effective threshold is around 10% for the majority of districts.

Citizens' signatures
Some countries considered it necessary to require from new parties (those having already a candidate elected at former elections being exempted) to collect a definite number of signatures from citizens. This number goes from a few hundreds for Luxembourg (250) to several hundreds of thousands for Romania (200 000). If a few thousands of signatures as in Germany (4000), Sweden (1500), Belgium (5000 for the Flemish part, 5000 for the Wallonne part and 200 for the German-speaking part), Spain (15000 or 50 elected officials), or 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 respectively in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary can be justified, what to say of the 150,000 required signatures in Italy (30,000 per district), 130,000 in Poland (10,000 per district) or 200,000 for Romania!!
The 'cost' for a newcomer is obviously higher for a new entrant in these countries in terms of human resources and financially as well. Periods to collect these signatures are limited and each party has only a few months, from 6 to 8 months before the elections until 2 months before. Finally and again, the existing parties are exempted of this collection of signatures!

Cost of the elections material
In the vast majority of the European Union member states, the cost of the election (the fact of physically being able to vote thanks to ballot papers, envelopes, posters...) is paid by states even if a deposit is requested from each party in many countries. The deposit amount goes from 90€ for Malta to 11,250€ for the Netherlands or £60,000 (66,000€, or 5,500€ by district) for the United Kingdom. These sums are paid back if parties reach a threshold from 1 to 3% depending on the countries.
Two countries (to our knowledge) are exceptions with regard to the financing of the elections material by the state: Czech Republic where each party must spend the equivalent of 10,000€ to pay ballot papers and others required furniture for the election (paid back if getting more than 1% of the votes) and France where a party which intends to stand in the eight districts must spend more than 1 million Euros! For the latter country, which is a country at the origin of the the creation of the European Union, the threshold of votes to reach in order to claim a refund of those expenses is 3%, the highest in the European Union.
How can a new independent party have a chance to reach elections under these conditions!? Isn't it the characteristic of any democracy to ensure an equal access for each party!!?

The legal age of participation to the elections
This last point concerns both voters in age or not to vote and potential candidates to the elections. It is necessary that the minimum legal ages to vote and to be candidate are the similar in each EU member state to ensure a homogeneous representativeness in the European Union.
Thus, if the legal age of vote is 18 (age of the civil majority) the quasi unanimity of the countries of the EU (only Austria authorizes the vote at 16), disparities are important with regard to the legal age to be candidate: This legal age is 18 years for 12 member states, 21 years for 10 member states, 23 years for 2 of them and 25 years for 3 member states.
CONCLUSION

If there was a contest of the least democratic and thus least European EU member states, based on the aforementioned criteria, the winners would be the following countries:

   1. France
   2. Italy and United Kingdom
   3. Poland and Romania

The European elections will be truly European and democratic only when the polling rules and procedures for these elections will be the same in every European Union Member State.
These rules and procedures must be as open as possible and encourage the largest possible representativeness and diversity.
Finally, trans-European parties must be explicitly recognised and authorized in the European Union and in any EU member state! This is the unique condition of a truly representative and thus real European democracy!

David Carayol
For Newropeans

SIGN THE PETITION HERE: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/democratic-european-elections.html

Display:
Until the federal income tax was imposed in about 1900, the U.S. national government was relatively weak in comparison to the state governments. Is there an E.U. income tax?
by asdf on Sat Feb 14th, 2009 at 12:46:26 PM EST
The EU budget is 1% of EU GDP and it is contributed entirely by the member states' governments.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 14th, 2009 at 12:59:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really equivalent, though, because the states didn't provide the kinds and levels of services that the national governments provide in Europe.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 06:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting, but I am not a newropean so I do not feel I should sign.

We European citizens and Newropeans, the first European citizen movement created to democratize the European Union, demand for the European elections to be truly European and democratic.

To give some tips:

  1. Remove any mention of Newropeans in the petition, especially the bolded part above. It does not add anything, scares away possible signatories and if the petition strikes big you will be the one sending press-releases anyway since you started it. (In those press-releases you should include your party name a lot.)
  2. Point 1 and 5 are really good, but the rest need some work. They are often fussy as demands - we want this, or at least that! - and need to be shorter and more to the point. I would put a demand for proportional representation EU-wide as number 2.
  3. Reformulate point 3. Demand instead the possibility of registering pan-EU (this is your initial grievance).
  4. Strike point 4, or reformulate. I am uncertain what you mean with it. Do you mean that every poster should be financed by the EU? With no upper limit?


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 03:35:44 AM EST
The next European Treaty, post Lisbon, should probably be a meta-Treaty addressing the processes of Government, Democracy, and public participation in a more consistent way so as to create a more genuine EU polity.  This doesn't necessarily require creating the conditions for hundreds of new parties to be formed, but it does require creating a clearly link and accountability between those who wield power at a European level and those - the European Citizenry - who are subject to that power.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 08:22:47 AM EST


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