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Questioning the MEP Candidates

by Nomad Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:03:30 AM EST


There are plans in the works to interview at least a few of the MEP candidates for different national parties - and clearly we're not the only ones, as Frank's diary shows.

Below the fold, we're developing a set of questions as a template for anyone who's interested to send them to a MEP candidate of choice. The basic idea is that by establishing a set of identical questions, this will facilitate a comparison of the (perhaps different) priorities of the MEP candidates.

What questions would you like to pose to the Member of European Parliament candidates?

I will first set the goal to craft 8 to 10 questions that can be sent to MEP candidates.

This is the current list - still a rough, incomplete draft, which can be modified.

Can you describe, briefly, what you think the European Union stands for?

If you look at participation during the elections, the European elections are not considered a "popular" election - what do you think are the main reasons for this?

Could you name three topics that should have top priority for the EU?

What do you consider the most important European Parliament vote in the 2004-2009 term?

(If you had been an MEP) In 2004-2009, was there a vote where you would have voted differently from your parliamentary group? Why or why not?

What is your outlook for the 2009-2014 term from the point of view of the institutions, and from the point of view of upcoming Directives? Is there a topic on which you would introduce an own-initiative report for approval by the plenary?

Of course, once the question-set is ready and an interview can be held, additional questions, ad-lib or personal, should at all times be welcomed. The template should be seen as a facilitating tool.

What questions should be added, rephrased, removed? Your input is welcome.

I'm thinking there are three possible cases:

  • first-time (or previously unelected) candidates
  • MEPs seeking re-election
  • MEPs not seeking re-election

In the case of those who have experience of EParliamentary life, it would be interesting to get their view on

  • where parliament's power counts most
  • their experience of the codecision process
  • their hopes (or fears) concerning Lisbon's proposed changes.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 06:36:09 AM EST
I'd like to ask my MEP how they feel that people in their constituency are affected by the EU.  

It might sound like an obvious question but for the non political, average tv consumer it could be a new thought.

What about asking a question about their parties key manifesto pledges with respect to the election?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri May 15th, 2009 at 07:31:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Wales:
What about asking a question about their parties key manifesto pledges with respect to the election?
For PES or ELDR candidates we should ask about the exchange of open letters.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 18th, 2009 at 04:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think asking people who have not been MEPs to name specific votes is setting the bar a little on the high side...

Maybe rephrase it as "a major political decision where you would have been willing to break ranks with your group."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 08:04:45 AM EST
I think it would be prudent to have a division between questions for candidates that have already served one or more term, and questions for those that are new.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 08:41:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's interesting to see if they have been paying attention to the EP for the past 5 years.

I would accept "REACH" or "the services directive" or "the working time directive" as an answer even if technically it is not a single "vote" but a collection of them.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 09:02:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After a diary has fleshed out the questionnaire we could consider posting the questionnaire in a form to which  candidates could voluntarily respond by posting as a diary or as a long comment under the European Elections head.  Unless there is concern about spam posts.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 02:59:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MEPs perform a number of functions.  

Firstly they have their legislative function, so it is reasonable to expect candidates to have a sound grasp of the powers and procedures of the parliament.

Secondly, they are there to represent their communities, so it is reasonable to ask what they have done in this regard in the past - what jobs have they held, any previous electoral offices, what particular (professional or otherwise) competencies they bring to the task.

Finally, they are there as members of political parties or groups, and it is reasonable to expect them to have a detailed grasp of the policies of their party/group, and for them to be able to articulate, argue, justify, evidence same.  So we need to ask them what policy proposals they would support on - e.g.

  1. The Financial crisis
  2. Energy policy
  3. Global warming
  4. Consumer protections
  5. Globalisation, trade, development aid
  6. Agricultural, environmental, and health and safety policies
  7. Regional, cohesion and solidarity policies with respect to disadvantaged regions in the EU.

If I candidate can't talk plausibly on the above - regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them - then they don't really tick the boxes of what is required of an MEP.

So I wouldn't dumb down the questionnaire to lowest common denominator status.  In fact I won't use a questionnaire at all, as that will either be ignored, or consigned to a flunky to do a cut and paste job.

We should all be asking for live interviews with the candidates and using a common question sheet as a guide so we can cross-reference the sort of answers we are getting.

For example Libertas are pursuing wildly different "policies" in different countries.  One of the vital services to democracy we could be performing is to call them and others on the inconsistencies they are offering to the electorate.

Whatever about politicians breaking their promises, how do you hold people to account afterwards if they have promised wildly conflicting things?

We have only ourselves to blame if we facilitated their election in the first place - by allowing market research led spin to take the place of serious policies and dialogue.

If ET has a role in all of this, it is to demand a higher standard of rigour and consistency of our parties and candidates.

But this needs to be a collective effort - and needs lots of people pestering for interviews in each country.  We must avoid getting caught up in the apathy which seems to surround the whole process.

Without challenge and debate, their can be no demos, and without a demos there is no real democracy.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 09:20:31 AM EST

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