European Elections 2014 : anger or disenchantment ?

European citizens are angry. It has been some time since they have protested or even voiced their opinions, but they have used their vote to show that Europe is not up to standard. Whether this was a useful result is doubtful ; in several countries, populism has crushed the major parties’ half-hearted realism, which is not necessarily good news.

From the 22nd - 25th May, EU Member States voted for their representatives in the European Parliament for the eighth time since the first elections in 1979. The Parliament is the most democratic element of the Union, as it is the only body elected by its citizens.

The Union is the enemy

In countries such as Denmark, the UK, Greece, Hungary and France, various far-right parties - as well as left-wing extremists in Greece - won the favour of the voters, based, for the most part, on their utopian promises and reactionary speeches. A review of their electoral programmes and political sermons gives the impression that Europe is succumbing to a form of hysteria. Have we become xenophobic, anti-European and worryingly retrogressive ? It is possible that we have, however we should also analyse the economic and social situations surrounding these elections, as well as the high abstention rate, which are probable indicators of a population that is simply disenchanted with a barely tangible political sphere.

The non-voters

In the first European elections, dating back to 1979, 61% of citizens turned out to vote. That was not a particularly low figure compared with those from later years, which were always below 50%. It is true that voting percentages in national and local elections have also decreased, which suggests that we are currently facing a general passivity that is merely accentuated in the context of the EU.

The majority of European citizens are unable to answer the question of what the European Parliament actually does, due to a lack of any useful or understandable information accessible to the average European. This lack of information could also be considered a fundamental symptom of the rise of populism and of (traditionally minority) extremist parties. Despite the ascent of these radical parties, however, the Parliament continues to be dominated by majority parties : popular parties and Social Democrats.

We do not yet know what the repercussions of the current political elections will be in the Member States but we should be aware that if votes are the reflection of social situation, ours is on the edge of despair.

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