Importance of the European elections - English

Voting for the disenchanted

By Juliane Mendelsohn22.04.2014Global Policy

A voter’s guide to the European elections.

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Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

You got me. I was one of _those_ people, the ones who spent German election day on the couch with a burger, staring at the Picasso print that stands where my television would be, if I had one, instead of heading out to engage in the most sacred of democratic ceremonies: the transference of my democratic power to the trusted parliamentarians of my choice.

The fairy tale that these parliamentarians sit around executing my will is of course nonsense. But it wasn’t some grand militant approach to negative freedoms that kept me from voting; it was genuine disenchantment and disappointment.

Europe can change on its own

Why should I (_qua_ Russell Brand) be _tacitly complicit_ in perpetually reinstalling the same group of people with the same set of ideas, or reward a government or opposition for being too busy or timid to run an election campaign?

Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t expecting confetti and tears – just someone challenging the wrong and comfortable ideas that prevent Germany and Europe from changing in the many ways it so desperately needs to. They weren’t there, so I sat with my burger.

Fortunately, it turns out I was wrong. Europe can change all on its own. The upcoming European election should not be regarded as an endorsement of the institutions and powers that already exist. It is a genuine enactment of what Europe needs most: a clash of different ideas and ideologies. Each of the powerful candidates is putting forward models of what a future Europe can look like.

To date we have only ever had the chance to say yes or no to a pre-established set of powers, charters and treaties. We have endured presidents and institutions that have given and taken freedoms from us as they saw fit.

The upcoming election is different. It is about Europe finding face and an identity that could serve as a reference point of what its citizens want it to be. While this may seem like another fairy-tale promise, it does provide a marker, and it is thus an improvement on current EU policy making, which occurs with less democratic legitimacy than your average African dictatorship.

Who to vote for?

If you don’t understand ideology, or like to pretend we’re beyond it, then vote for people. Vote for Martin Schulz or Jean-Claude Juncker if you believe in nice people and nice ideas. Vote for Alexis Tsipras if you want to change the current power structures and abandon institutions such as the Troika; vote for Guy Verhofstadt if you don’t. Or for the masked alliance of Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and the likes if you hate your neighbors and carry little else in your heart.

If you were asked to express what kind of world you would like to live in, why would you remain silent? I don’t only want you to vote; I want you to enjoy it.

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