[OPE] Frank Furedi's criticism of the European elections

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Wed Jun 10 2009 - 15:12:55 EDT

"The inevitable consequence of the institutionalisation of insulated
decision-making is that it diminishes the capacity of European politicians
to motivate and inspire their electorate. Low voter turnout doesn't come
from any problem of presentation; it is the logical conclusion to the EU's
system of behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring that is seen as unsuitable
for public engagement and scrutiny. As a result of this, EU officials come
across as they really are: bureaucrats rather than political leaders. Their
ineptness has been exposed time and again as they have proven unable to win
support for their proposed EU Constitution in national referendums. Is it
any surprise that they have decided that referendums are not needed for the
implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, which is simply the Constitution

When everything fails, the EU oligarchy tries to panic the electorate into
voting. 'If people don't vote, the danger is that there will be more
extremist parties or parties from outside the mainstream [in the European
Parliament]', warned Hans-Gert Poettering, president of the parliament. This
is now the main message of EU rulers: people should vote to keep the
extremists out, rather than voting positively for something. And it's
important to note that the word 'extremist' is used promiscuously today, to
include not just the far right but also various kinds of Eurosceptic.

The paradox is that the culture of insulated decision-making has created an
environment that is hospitable to the growth of political frustration and
bitterness. The manipulative and dishonest style of rule-making confirms
people's cynicism towards conventional politics. Worse still, the insulation
of decision-making directly contributes to the hollowing out of public life,
which far too many people now see as pointless and irrelevant. In such
circumstances, movements that are able to politicise people's anger and
dissatisfaction are able to make significant headway. So it is not
surprising that right-wing nationalist parties gained some momentum in
countries such as Holland, Hungary, Austria, France and Poland. Unlike the
mainstream parties, these protest movements have no inhibitions about
exposing the democratic deficit that afflicts the EU. The support for these
parties is provoked by the cynicism of the EU elite itself."

(Here in Holland, the Socialist Party used the rather imbecile and
self-defeating slogan "Less Brussels" ("Minder Brussel"), sorta like a
socialism-for-dummies "who wants to be a Brussels Sprout?", because SP
surveys showed that the Dutch working population was mainly against
interference of the Brussels Euro-government in Dutch affairs. The party
faithful voted for the party list, but the SP only retained their seats in
the European parliament, gaining no more - there was a swing to the Geert
Wilders anti-immigrant party and the social-liberals. It looks like the
project of European unification will require a whole new breed of
intelligent internationalist politicians of integrity, firmly committed to
the democratic representation of liberty, equality and justice, but also
able to explain rationally the costs and benefits of European unification,
while putting a complete stop to corrupt practices and the squandering of
public funds to subsidize the already well-off. As it is, national politics
is increasingly no longer pursued by any rational argument, but by gimmicks,
slogans, cleverly contrived video images and mystical formula's; to half of
Europe, the established political parties no longer have any real appeal,
and make no sense, but maverick parties typically also disintegrate after a
few years - JB).

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