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Putting ET to work: covering the European elections

by Jerome a Paris Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 09:16:30 AM EST

As mentioned in an earlier story, one of the things that could help increase European Tribune's visibility, by building on our natural strengths (wonks from many EU countries, the experience of cross-border dialogue, among other things) would be to provide innovative coverage of the European parliament elections, scheduled for early June this year, and become the go-to place for this pan-European event.

Our value would not come simply from aggregating dry facts about the election (wikipedia already has a decently filled page on this), but by bringing our own kind of analysis - local & multi-national, detailed & unburdened by political correctness, knowledgeable but not shy about stating opinions and identifying them as such.

But this will require as many of you - and yes, that includes both the regulars and the lurkers - to bring forward content, in order to have a full kaleidoscope of views and a coverage of as many countries as possible.

What I'd like to see would be, for instance:

  • from as many members as possible, a diary describing the main parties in their country, the twists of rules for the Euro election, and the current topics of debate on Europe, if any. For a number of countries, it should be possible to recycle, or link to, older diaries that have already been written;
  • articles on pan-European issues (how parties from different countries you know link together or not, how issues you know about are discussed differently across borders during the campaign);
  • portraits of selected euro MPs - or interview with them; if you have any contacts with candidates, send them written questions or ask them to post here;
  • discussions on recent EU decisions which involved the EP; again, previous diaries that are relevant can be unearthed and updated as relevant.
The Frontpagers will try to provide a regular schedule of content, and will endeavor to keep a master page of links to all that's written on the subject over the coming months (including external links if you help provide them). This page provides a first list of recent diaries - please provide the links if you remember other relevant diaries or discussion threads. We'll also start by putting up a daily "European Elections" section in each day's Salon, which we'll ask you to help fill in with any relevant stories; as news warrant, this could become a frontpage thread of its own.

Don't hesitate to post stories in languages other than English; if you can translate them, and post them in two-column format (see how to do this here), that will be great, but having the stories is already useful.

We're counting on you!


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Like I said yesterday, my knowledge of EU structure and politics is abysmal. I will follow these posts quite carefully.

A wonderful suggestion. Good luck to everyone.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 09:37:33 AM EST
I am always a little confused with these European Institutions - this is an elections for the EU Parliament, which is called European Parliament - right? So not all European countries are involved, or are they?
by Fran on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:09:13 AM EST
They take place in all EU member countries. If we need to find a name that is clear enough, and does not offend the sensibilities of non-Eu European countries, let's do it now, and fix that title!

We could use "European Parliament Elections" (EPE in short) if you want.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:19:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it is offensive, I just wanted to be sure that I get what it is really about and it is the term used all over.
by Fran on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The elections are normally called "European Elections" or "Elections to the European Parliament" in the countries that take part in them.

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 Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:27:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to confuse it with the Council of Europe which has 47 member countries.
by Fran on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:32:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (of which your illustrious compatriot Dick Marty was a member) is not a directly elected body.

The European Flag was created by the Council of Europe which then licensed it to other pan-European institutions.

The Council of Europe is not the same thing as the two EU institutions called European Council or Council of the European Union.

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 Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 11:31:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The European Union Treaties call the EU Parliament "The European Parliament".

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 Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:25:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could call it the "Maastricht Parliament."

Yeah, I had to look up which treaty kicked the EU off.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 01:52:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, we just call ourselves "Americans" and the rest can be Canadians, Mexicans, Venezualans etc, but WE are the AMERICANS, so just follow our lead and call yourselves EUROPEAMS, the others that are in Europe will be okay after a while, they may fuss, but....

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 02:17:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All European Union member states are involved.

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 Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:21:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but not all European states, according to wiki there are about 50 states in Europe, but only 27 are in the EU. :-)

Europe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Politically, Europe comprises those countries in the European Union,[dubious - discuss] but may at times be used formally or more casually to refer to both the EU together with other non-EU countries e.g. the Council of Europe has 47 member countries and includes the 27 countries which are part of the EU.[3]
by Fran on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:26:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is only one multinational European parliamentary assembly that is directly elected, and that is the European Parliament. There is no other election in Europe that could be confused with the "European Election".

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 Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:29:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Council of Europe is not a directly elected body.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:30:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See What is Europe Anyway? ...with poll! by p------- on February 14th, 2006.

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 Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 11:34:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All 27 member states of the EU have EU Parliament elections in June. I assume.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 10:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing that could be interesting would be a set of questions to ask to various national lists - such as, do you have a President of the Commission candidate ? etc...

To get an idea of the diversity of the various national and European parties...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 12:51:34 PM EST
It'll be interesting to see how this election is covered in America, if at all.  Will post appropriate material as it emerges.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 01:45:45 PM EST
Good idea!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 02:45:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will repeat a comment I made earlier: there is a structural problem with EP elections stemming from the need for candidates to have national visibility. There is no 'local' element in EP elections.

A nationwide campaign is a lot more expensive than a local one. Thus, in selecting candidates, the parties will tend to either go with failed national politicians or celebrities.

Finland currently has 2 failed ex-PMs, a handful of political deadbeats and a couple of political oddballs. Becoming an MEP is seen by political operators as a consolation prize or sinecure. Or indeed the EU may be seen as a large carpet to sweep political dirt under.

But the most worrying trend is the pressganging of celebrities, who have the required nationwide visibility, but rarely a clue about politics. It is more like jury service. Cost-efficient these celebrities may be, but useful? Even my name has been mentioned, so the barrel is being scraped. Talk about pigeon among the cats...

There is a second structural problem: in order to get EU funding within parliament, and be guaranteed seats on committees, you need to join a group that has at least 20 MEPS from 6 different countries (Rising to 25 this year). There are currently 7 of these different groups (and a few independents). Classifying the myriad national European political parties in just 7 groups makes for some odd bedfellows in these groups.

This makes it a hard sell to the national voters. And that is one of the reasons it is rarely mentioned - at least in Finland.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 03:31:48 AM EST
This is worth posting as a stand alone diary.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will do - late this afternoon. I'll add some meat to it that is relevant to Finland, as an example.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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