Thursday, October 28, 2004

Commissioning democracy

No Right Turn comments on the current situation (BBC report) in Europe, where the European Parliament is threatening to reject the new Eurpoean Commission unless changes are made.

It is indeed an interesting situation. The EU has lacked direct democracy since it started. This is not coincidental - most national governments (and the political movements they spring from) want control of the EU in their hands. The anti-EU factions, especially in Britain, although many nominally claim to want EU "reform", are in practice heavily opposed to anything that would actually give the EU legitimacy.

(An interesting aside here - traditionally British Labour was more negative on the EU than the Tories. After a massive success in European Parliament elections in the mid-90s, the party changed its views from broad "scepticism" to broad "support". I believe this is one reason why Bryan Gould (who is/was somewhat anti-EU) left UK politics and came back to NZ).

It is interesting that the MEPs who are opposing the new Commission are doing so against the wishes of their "home" political parties. One interesting scenario would be that one or more Euro-Parties (these are currently alliances of various national parties) establish themselves independently and contest future Euro-elections on a Europe wide policy platform. This could involve a commitment to agricultural reform, for instance. It is conceivable, if unlikely, that a victorious grouping could face up to national governments and demand that their nominee be made Commission President.

Direct democracy would transform the EU. I'd expect it to become much more effective - a directly elected EU administration would be expected to show competence or face electoral defeat.

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