EU Politics: Another Day in the Office?
Karl Marx once said: “Men make their own history not under circumstances they themselves have chosen, but under the given and inherited circumstances with which they are directly confronted”. My spontaneous reaction to this evergreen quote is ‘Well, if the 20thcentury’s long-lived political legacy that was passed to us is the European project, we should be hopeful for the future’.
Globally, we can say that the wind is blowing more in favour of pro-Europeans than the international alliance of nationalists. The ‘my country first’ political block proves fragmented on many issues, first and foremost the distribution of immigrants and fiscal/budgetary rules regulating EU Member States’ spending. The limited seats in the European Parliament gained by the far-right groups and the European Alliance of Peoples and Nations (EAPN), lead by Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen, indicates that Eurosceptics will most likely not represent a serious force of opposition to further integration.
Without being naïve or overly optimistic, we can say without reservation that last week’s EU elections showed us that our beloved Union still enjoys considerable support among the European demos. This has been demonstrated by the 50.5% overall turnout; 7.89% increase compared to the 2014 elections and the highest level recorded in the last 25 years. However, celebrations for democratic participation have been relativised by worrisome news from the UK and other European citizens. Indeed, thousands of EU citizens living abroad and who were legally registered were unable to vote, including myself. As it reports, The Guardian has received more than 500 files of complaints from European citizens who never received their voting documents due to administrative and bureaucratic malfunctions outside of their control. On social media, the #DeniedmyVote campaign has gained momentum, with over 113778 signatories supporting the online petition to launch investigations into this public scandal. According to the campaign launched on Change.org, the rough estimation is that up to 2 million citizens were denied their right to vote. These electoral irregularities are unacceptable, especially on the Continent that praises itself for being the world’s champion of democratic values, civic liberties and human rights.
All in all, the European population seems to trust the EU in delivering the urgent and necessary policies to tackle global issues such as climate change, migration flows, inequality, unemployment, corruption, and digitalisation. Albeit not overwhelmingly, European voters sent a strong message to structurally reform the EU, allegedly being too technocratic and biased towards market-free and neoliberal policies. Most EU voters believe in a social, green, distributive and fair Union promoting inter-state and intra-societal socio-economic solidarity. Let’s make it happen. History is on our side.