September 29, 2008
Who Cares About Europe?
is the caption of the Charlemagne column in the last issue of The Economist. Whether voter indifference needs to be managed or feared is a pertinent question. Comparing it with national attitudes towards government is inappropriate. National politicians may have lost the trust of their electorates but the national system is accepted as legitimate, and usually long-established.
Citizens may not seek to understand the detailed content or effect of policies but they understand national politics and care about who wins national elections.
Most of the blame for voter indifference at European level is due to the failure of national leaders to explain its relevance, or to present the Union’s workings as they really are, or to be more honest about how much power has been passed on to the European – preferring to play the ‘blame Brussels game’.
And yet it is increasingly obvious that individual countries cannot solve their problems alone, and that issues such as immigration policy and simplified extradition procedures demonstrate how the EU now touches the essential contract between the citizen and the state. European integration must therefore have voters’ broadly informed consent.
The saddest result of the research on the Irish referendum rejections is that the voters did not understand the Lisbon Treaty, nor it seems, did they want to understand it, although over 80% are in favour of EU membership.Author : Stanley Crossick