I have cast my vote for the European Parliament at the Swedish Consulate here in New York. It is of course no surprise which party I voted for.
I sincerely hope that the number of people who vote in this election will be higher than in the last election in 2004. Then less than 38% of the Swedish electorate participated, which is even low among the EU memberstates. This can be compared with the very high turn overs in the elections to the national parliament, which has been between 80-96 percnt during the last 40 years. I think the low level of participation is symptomatic of some of the basic flaws in the European Union. Media coverage of the workings of the EU is very poor and most parliamentarians are barely visible to the general public. If issues are reported it is at such a late stage, like just before an issue is to be decided, that it is too late for a general debate to have any impact on the outcome. So it is not surprising that people get a feeling that Brussels is far away, that they have too little insight into the working of the union and don’t see what effect their vote will have.
This interview with gives a rather interesting analysis of why the participation is particularly low in Sweden and I think the limited influence of the parliament on some of the issues of the working of the EU that people are most concerned about is a factor that one should not fail to mention. But the aspect that I find must interesting is the dubious attitute among national politicians towards the union. I tend to refer to the relationship between national politicians and the EU by using a reference to my favourite moviedirector, Lars von Trien and his movie Direktören för det hele (The Boss of It All) The storyline is based on a character who is director of a company but dislike standing up for uncomfortable decisions towards his employees. So he pretends that there is another director above him whom can comfortably take the blame while he keeps the credit for the positive improvements. I think the EU can similarily function comfortably like a director of it all fpr national politicians- someone to blame when things dont go your way, but at the same time you dont want to appear powerless infront of your constituate.But it comes at a high cost to play games like that and the price is disillusionment towards politicians and a feeling of powerlessness to influence the decisons that affect your life. And I do have my hopes up for this election. Just at our little pollstation at the consulte already more people had voted on the third day than during the entire election last time.