General Question

Lve's avatar

For the Europeans out there. Are you going to vote for the European Parliament today?

Asked by Lve (1492 points ) June 4th, 2009

Today all eligible citizens of the EU Member States have a chance to vote for the EP. I am interested in knowing whether people that are allowed to vote will actually go out and do it. Do you think it is important that EU citizens use there right to go out and vote? Or do you feel it doesn’t matter either way since it is a European wide election for a EU institute that does not have the same powers as a national parliament? I know that in my country (Holland) only about 40% will actually go out to vote today…

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21 Answers

oratio's avatar

Yes, but in my country we vote on sunday.

We have anti-union organizations trying to discourage people to vote. They are not doing anyone a service. If we don’t vote democracy loses, and we will still be in the union.

Interest in the Union elections are low. With the low voter participation, there is some talk about if the choice of representatives should be the responsibility of the politicians instead of the people.

This is the only way we as individuals can influence Union politics. If we don’t vote, those who vote, and their representatives gets all the voice. I think it’s in the interest of everyone to vote, even if you are negative to the Union in the first place.

mattbrowne's avatar

Absolutely. I’ve never missed a single election in my whole life. Voting is very very important to me. Europe is very very important to me and it’s sad that some people still don’t seem to realize this. Yes, we all need to influence EU politics.

Jack79's avatar

Like oratio said, it’s not the same day everywhere.
I think it is an important vote. Sure, people still think of their national governments as more important, and usually vote along the same lines as they would on national elections, which makes the EU elections something like a semi-official poll on government support rather than a pan-european election. I think the EU parliament has a lot to do with that though. It seems that the representatives usually see themselves as representatives of their country, rather than members of a much larger organisation. Which also applies to the voters, who still have quite strong notions of nationality. Compare this to Americans, for example. Sure, a lot of black people may have voted for Obama, but usually the dividing line is the issues and ideologies themselves, with the candidates getting the votes of people from their respective parties, regardless of nationality. Obama got votes from people of Irish, Italian or Russian decent, as long as they were democrats. And similarly, McCaine got votes from republicans of the very same nationalities, as well as black republicans of course.

Personally, I’d like to see a “United States of Europe” as some people have called it (though I’d hate that name). And I will of course vote, though I’m still not sure whom (I was going to vote in Germany, but now I’ll vote in Greece instead).

ml3269's avatar

In Spain it is on sunday, 7th of june – and YES, sure, I will vote!

Vincentt's avatar

Most countries vote later – only the Netherlands and the UK voted yesterday. Unfortunately the Netherlands already presented their exit polls – at least the UK had the courtesy to wait until Sunday, when all countries had voted.

That said, I did vote yesterday. I’m very pro-Europe, and it’s looking great for my party, the European Greens. In the Netherlands, when we (GroenLinks, the main Dutch member of the European Greens) started our campaign, we were hoping we could hold on to our two seats (as the Netherlands has fewer seats now) – in the end, we managed to gain one. It really makes the campaign a bit more satisfying :)

mattbrowne's avatar

I’ll vote for the social democrats, but I’m a big supporter of the Green parties as well. Poll stations in Germany are opening Sunday morning.

oratio's avatar

@Vincentt Interesting. I am going to vote for the Pirate Party myself, and so are many of my friends. It is a party mainly concerned about citizen integrity and privacy, protecting some of the core values of democracy. Polls seems to show they will get into the parliament.

Vincentt's avatar

@oratio What I don’t like about the Pirate Party (for as much as I know about them, which is little as it’s not Dutch) is that they’re a one-issue party. Their excuse is that it allows them to focus on those issues, without alienating e.g. left-wing or right-wing people. Yet, if they got in parliament, they either abstain from voting on those issues or they might vote something you don’t agree with. Either is bad, because there are more issues that are also important.

Also, I don’t know whether they’re a member of a pan-European party, but if they’re not, they won’t even be able to accomplish anything. That’s the case for e.g. the Dutch PVV, who won massively yesterday but definitely won’t be able to accomplish anything of the extremist things they’re shouting.

Of course, one of the reason I’m a strong backer of the greens is that I know them to be strong supporters of privacy and many other democratic values (e.g. they are considering filing a case against Berlusconi for controlling most private and public press and not allowing critical journalists at his press conferences), and that they have proven to be so in the previous years (see e.g. their “I wouldn’t steal” campaign and their work to block the three-strikes measure).

oratio's avatar

@Vincentt I know this issue and I see the point, though I want to respond to that.

Their excuse is that it allows them to focus on those issues, without alienating e.g. left-wing or right-wing people.
I know this and it is not an excuse. It’s a protest party, arisen by popular grievances, and an important part of democracy. This is an important way of putting certain issues above others and high-lighten political questions not addressed by the political sphere in general. There is a feminist party in my country that has similar issues. What their biggest contribution is, is that their agenda has to be addressed by sitting parties. There is no loss if they get into the parliament, and a party like the Pirate Party who doesn’t address the the full range of political issues will not get much more influence than that.

Yet, if they got in parliament, they either abstain from voting on those issues or they might vote something you don’t agree with. Either is bad, because there are more issues that are also important.
You can abstain from voting on them for this reason, but it’s not a good reason. This is what our sitting parties are saying, and it is meant to scare people from voting for them. The amount of people that vote for a protest party shows how much they have failed to address important issues for their voters to begin with. What you say has logic in it, but it is the same logic as if a person says: “If everyone was gay there would be no children, therefore it’s bad.”

Vincentt's avatar

@oratio There is a loss, because the only opinion you give with your vote is on that limited range of issues that parties like the pirate party stand for. There is so much more that is important, that I want to express with my vote. I don’t see how that logic is similar to the gay-children-thingy. I suppose it would be more like “I’m glad I’m not gay because I wouldn’t be able to give birth with my partner to a child of our own, which I’d really like”.

oratio's avatar

@Vincentt Alright, forget the simile.

If no sitting party address one or several issues, but actually support and enforce the reason behind the grievances of their voters, they fail their trust. This is what gives rise to a protest party. When/if the sitting parties agree to take these issues into consideration and change their politics the protest party has no purpose anymore. If they don’t, the protest party will develop it’s politics and in the end it will either lose support or be a full fledged party.

Simply said, there is no better way to protest when the establishment fails. The french seems to do it differently. They crash windows, burn cars and block the freeways.

If voter grievance in some of important questions is bigger than they value many of the rest of the range of politics, there is a good reason to vote for them.

It is the same with a feminist party, or an immigration based party.

The reason for the rise of this party is because people have no other party that address their integrity and privacy in telecommunications and internet. This is a national and european issue. I am sure you too watch what happens in France right now, and the Telecom package in the Union. Many countries in the Union deals with these issues, and the parties of my country has failed to pick this up. Thus, the support for these democratic core values.

Many see it as it is not of much importance of how social issues are addressed if key democratic freedom is taken away from us, because we vote for a party that address social issues, but is responsible for the invasion of citizen integrity, changing laws to invade privacy.

Vincentt's avatar

Sure, I do agree that if the “establishment” doesn’t do anything, a vote for a protest party is a valid consideration. However, in the case of the pirate party, the EGP does address those issues, and other important issues as well. Heck, their track record on accomplishments is better than the Pirate Party’s (of course, this isn’t entirely fair because the Pirate Party is relatively new, but it still is a point: the EGP is proven). I’d like an example of how the EGP is responsible for invading citizen integrity (well, actually I wouldn’t like it if it existed, but if it does, I want to know). This is quite similar to the animal party in the Netherlands, by the way, who just missed out on a seat. Then again, they hoped to join the EGP ;-)

Oh, and of course complaints about the established party should be properly grounded. In the case of the PVV in the Netherlands, they are shouting things without solid funding (really, nobody can deny this, it’s just a fact). So yeah, they’re protesting against most every other party, but the message they’re sending is just bullocks. That’s a waste of a vote in my opinion.

oratio's avatar

@Vincentt I don’t know much about the EGP. I am basically talking about my country’s political sphere. One BIG problem is that Union politics and especially the election is not discussed and information made to the public. Media, the parties and political organizations has done a piss poor job of informing the public about anything connected to the election. So it’s in some way pretty much up till the voter to get informed.

I agree, there are some protest parties not worth the time. We have a bunch of small nationalist parties whose real only issue is to kick out immigrants. A protest party only proves it’s validity by the number of votes.

I have no impression of that they will represent my opinions about family politics or health care. That’s not why I am voting for them.

But I will check out some more about EGP. I know and see your points though. But I see a democratic importance in a protest party. It also depends on the culture how you protes, as I said about France. The danish are like that too. They take other action.

Vincentt's avatar

Yeah true. And it’s a real shame that these whole elections (at least in the Netherlands) are barely about European issues.

Vincentt's avatar

Well there’s an interesting development: The Pirate Party is considering joining the Greens. Would that also mean they would join them in the votes on other issues? If so, I’d love it ;-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Should the Netherlands pay a fine for breaking the rules?

oratio's avatar

Breaking the rules?

Vincentt's avatar

@oratio – announcing the results of the election before the other countries had held their elections, thus potentially influencing election results in those countries.

I’m not sure whether it was an actual rule, but I still don’t get why the results were made available already. I read that they considered that, in the future, the Netherlands would simply vote last. I wonder if they then expect all the other EU member countries to delay announcing their results until those elections have been held…

Jack79's avatar

I don’t think that this is true (besides, how could you keep them a secret for so many days?). You’re not allowed to announce results before the voting finishes on the day, including exit polls etc. So the solution as far as EU is concerned is to simply have elections on the same day (just like national elections).

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s not allowed to disclose any results before the last polling stations are closed. I don’t support any penalty but it should not happen again next time.

Vincentt's avatar

Well… The last polling stations in the Netherlands were closed. I wouldn’t really mind moving the election to another day but apparently it’s tradition for some countries to hold their elections on specific days (it was only the first time I was allowed to vote so I don’t really have a habit yet, that’s why I don’t really mind I suppose), so they don’t want them all on the same day.

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