Sunday, September 02, 2007

They are afraid of the people

Popular legitimacy does not bother the bureaucracy. Mandarins are afraid of the people. They fear that their great works will crumble if exposed to the volatile outside world. That is why referendums are equated with the hated "populism".

So says Derk-Jan Eppink, an apparatchik who served at the heart of the "empire", in the European Commission.

How right he is, but the fool then spoils it by declaring that the president of the commission should be directly elected at European elections. "If he were to have a true democratic mandate, he would be more independent and have more power over the mandarins," says Eppink. "At present, he rides precariously on the neck of an elephant he cannot master, across an empire he can hardly manage."

Once again, you have this fatal misunderstanding: this naïve belief that somehow elections are the be-all and end-all of democracy and that an elected official necessarily has a mandate.

Someone should take Eppink aside and quietly explain the meaning of the word demos and then point out that there is no European demos, without which electing an EU president would be a meaningless charade.

In fact, there is nothing the "colleagues" would like better than an elected president. That would give them the appearance of democratic legitimacy and undermine even further the grip of elected national politicians.

In fact, if this current treaty is ratified and we get a full-time president of the European Council (with the possibility that he can also be president of the commission), you can be assured that the next treaty proposal (and there will surely be one) will include provisions for an elected president.

And fools like Eppink will think it is a good idea!


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