If you believe the latest Eurobaromenter figures (made public in autumn 2008), only a meagre 16% of Europeans know that the European elections take place in 2009. Moreover, only 4% can give the exact dates - 4 to 7 June. This ignorance of the Europeans concerning their election is alarming. It could perhaps bring common democracy to a standstill for ever. After 57% of voters did not vote in the last election in 2004, a similar result in the coming year would be a renewed warning for a European government, which has not sent out any clear messages to its voters since 1999.
‘Simply because the voter is ignorant, it doesn't mean that he is stupid’
‘Simply because the voter is ignorant, it doesn't mean that he is stupid,’ says Mark Franklin from the European University Institute, where he heads 'Piredeus', an initiative which analyses the impact of the 2009 European election on voters and the media. Franklin believes the reason why potential voters turn their backs on the elections is because the media don’t report because the political parties ‘work very hard to ensure that the elections don’t work. They come much too late to it, acting divided over European subjects, all the meanwhile talking little about it.’
It is not just political parties who get to the elections late, but also the media in general. Even now, six months before the election, none of the national or European media are relaying the policies of each political force around the most interesting topics for the citizens, to the citizens. Eurobarometer suggests that employment is one of the biggest concerns.
In the labyrinth corridors of the European parliament, it is not difficult to find press chiefs, party spokespeople and MEPs who are all astounded that journalists publicly push them to present themselves before the public opinion or to defend their political commitments. No definite voter register will be released until the Christmas break is over, nor will we discover the complete manifestos of the seven political groups which make up the Europarliamentary arch. cafebabel.com has got their hands on some – you can find out more on eudebate2009.eu.
Ireland continues to raise eyebrows
The irony of destiny lies in the discovery that Ireland, which has blocked the ratification of the Lisbon treaty since the referendum in June, is one of the three countries most interested in the European elections.
Affiliation to a political party on the Emerald Isle certainly outweighs that of elsewhere in Europe
Experts surmise that this interest is due to the high politicisation of the Irish. Affiliation to a political party on the Emerald Isle certainly outweighs that of elsewhere in Europe. It’s not in vain that the anti-Europe party founded by British-Irish mulitmillionaire Declan Ganley at the end of November is winning more and more support.