Mainstream parties have forgotten , to their large cost, the importance of European politics. And it’s not just the mainstream parties, but the mainstream voter too. Take France as an example, or even the UK. The turn out for General elections in the UK and France, or even Presidential elections in France, or let’s face it, even Mayoral elections in France are all higher than the shambolic resignation turn out that voters give to the European parliamentary elections. In France 60% of voters didn’t bother voting in 2014 in the European election, whereas in the presidential turnout was at 70% and this turnout is echoed in the graph below which shows declining voter participation throughout Europe over time. Indeed, between 1960 and 1996 average voter turnout in lower house elections has been 76 % in both the UK and France.This in countries who had 9 elections and no compulsory vote for the UK and France. We can also see a distinct shift away from two-party politics throughout the European community, as radical and sometimes extreme political views are introduced and elected. If we consider the French Nationalist party, Le Front National, who were only formed in 1972, yet today have a 25% vote in France in the European elections., we can see this sea change. Some people will say its only a ‘protest vote’ but in my opinion, voting for the FN as a protest is like shitting in your bed in protest that it hasn’t been cleaned and then realising that the FN will make you sleep in the bed and eat the shit. I do understand voter frustration with the electoral machine and huge, huge dinosaur of an empire that Europe has become, but we need reform, not revolution.
Some may ask why mainstream political parties cannot enthuse and motivate people to vote, and don’t offer the voter a real way forward.The FN only has 70 thousand members, compared with the Socialists who have 170 thousand members, or the UMP who have 300 thousand members. Why can’t these mainstream political parties get their members onto doorsteps with the message of hope? Is political apathy and dissolution the order of the day? Or perhaps it is more ‘acceptable” to be a member of a mainstream political party.
Europe seems less and less relevant to the everyday voter, yet rather bizarrely seems to gather and garner more and more power as the years go by.
Every party wants us to vote for change, for something different, which is seemingly better than before. Or looks to give us a golden past which never really exisited.It is easy, then to become bitter and somewhat cynical, especially when ultra right parties complain that immigrants will vote but nationals(people born in the country) will abstain.
Do we vote against the swallows or the cuckoos when they come to our lands? Are we really so shallow as to search for the quick fix and the scapegoat, forgetting the humanity and falling victim to the belief that the ends justify the means.
We need to move away from a push button democracy, to one where participation is seen as essential.
Yesterday, I went to vote. Maybe my choices weren’t good, and I take full responsibility for that. That’s more than those FN elected will do, who will now go to Europe and have a dangerous voice against tolerance. After 70 years of peace, the seeds of conflict have been sown. these politicians don’t want Europe, and have no European Dream, other than the one Hitler had 70 years ago.
So what can we do now, to encourage voting and participation.Does democracy have to be obligatory, as in almost no European countries (Greece, who invented the concept of democracy have to go and vote and so do Luxembourg) to ensure everyone’s voice is heard? Or do we need politicians capable of proposing exciting ideas with passion and force, who have a team and are not just a figurehead? And who don’t seek popular votes or bribe the electorate with tax cuts or radical and unjust policies? Seeking people is perhaps best done after we have a process, so I will stand up and say we need compulsory voting or we will be forced to vote for the FN.
One thing is certain. If the mainstream voter continues to live in the bubble of belief that Europe is somehow incomprehensible, over fed and over fat, over funded and unaccountable, then extreme parties will use this to gain access to the parliament , as its a quick route to power; once in power, then they will ensure that they will keep it, and the very idea of democracy will be lost, and the European Parliment will become nothing more than a rubber stamp for dictator’s decisions. We need to act now , to stop the rot. Its already late in the evening on the path to war.
|Historical turnout of Elections to the European Parliament in %|