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European democracy, eh?

Posted by Helen Friday, June 05, 2009 ,

As the European Union member states are lumbering through the ludicrous farce of elections for the Toy Parliament, another aspect of the wondrous system heaves into view. It looks like Commission President Barroso will be re-confirmed in that position for another term, presumably because he has been such a success.

The first inkling I had of it was an article by John Palmer, who "a member of the governing board, and former political director, of the European Policy Centre". There's glory for you, as Humpty-Dumpty said.

This does not prevent Mr Palmer talking the most appalling tosh. He does not like Barroso's reappointment because it is "bad for European democracy". He seems to be under the impression that the elections for the Toy Parliament have anything to do with the choice of Commission President, in the way that a general election would have a great influence on who becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Imagine a general election where the major parties – the "Conservatives" and "Labour" – both have a reasonable chance of emerging victorious. But at the last minute, the Labour party decides to let the Tory leader have a free go at running the next government even before the votes are cast. In an equally bizarre move, the third-largest party, the "Liberals", decide that they too will not fight the election, with a candidate seeking appointment as head of the next administration.

Strange as it may seem, this is exactly the situation facing voters in the European elections this week across the 27 member states of the EU.
José Manuel Barroso, the sitting conservative president of the European commission – the supra-national executive of the EU, which alone can propose new laws – has already been endorsed for another term as president by the centre-right European Peoples' party (the equivalent of the Conservatives).
Outrageous. Of course, there is the slight problem that the Commission President is picked by the various politicians behind closed doors and not elected but who is counting.

I wonder what Mr Palmer would say to a scenario in which a country voted in a free and fair referendum against a certain piece of constitutional legislation only to find that it is now required to vote again as the result they returned was the wrong one. Surely that would never happen. The fair name of European democracy would never be sullied in that way. Would it?

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