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Social democrat failure

Mark Mardell | 01:16 UK time, Monday, 8 June 2009

A couple watching results board outside European Parliament, BrusselsWhether you look at this as 27 individual elections or a snapshot of the EU as a whole a picture does emerge.

At a time of severe economic crisis, when it's almost traditional for people to give their governments a kicking, they refrained. In Poland, Germany, France and Italy ruling parties of the centre right have done well. In part this may be because many in continental Europe see this recession as made in the USA, and UK, by Anglo-Saxons - not their own leaders.

But the other side of the coin is the EU-wide failure of social democracy. They lost some votes to parties further to their left. In France and Germany in particular the main party of the left has been in a mess for a while. And in Germany, where the party is in a coalition government, it hasn't looked like anything but the junior partner.

An economic crisis, which many blame on a market that's too free, in a world where people feel insecure, and might look for more social protection - it should have been an open goal for the social democrats. In Europe they have lacked inspiration, organisation and anything approaching a new idea.

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  • 1. At 01:32am on 08 Jun 2009, CarlosSanchezGuerra wrote:

    Congratulations Europe. Low voter turnout it would seem but evenso it is nice to see the left get a good kicking. Mui Bueno, Carlos.

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  • 2. At 01:58am on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    43.5% Turnout!

    A historic low turnout!

    A turnout so low no Party or MEP across Europe can claim even 33% Mandate from the eligible Citizen Electorate!

    And you, Mr Mardell, write about the 'Social Democrats'!?

    The European Union Parliament utterly fails to get a Mandate to function as a Legislative body, but, according to you the real story is the 'Left' got a kicking at the Ballot Box!?
    The European Commission President Barroso has already claimed it (the election) was an "..undoubted success for those who support the EU.." So, for Barroso the 'Federalist agenda/project' goes ahead unhindered and unencumbered by any little thing like a DEMOCRATIC MANDATE, and with your style of reporting, Mr Mardell, astonishingly unremarked too! Despite recording a shaming Voter Turnout worse than any 'banana Republic,' according to the BBC the story is the "..lack of inspiration, organisation and anything approaching a new idea.." by the 'left' that deserves all its Editor's attention!?

    Here's an alternative, Mr Mardell: For the 4th ELECTION IN A ROW the European Union from President Barroso across the unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable Commission through its entire 750 MEPs never showed a sign of Inspiration, Organisation or a New Idea that would engage the Support of the Citizens of Europe and it is therefore no longer to be taken seriously by anyone with a claim to upholding DEMOCRATIC VALUES.

    Oooh, but that story would not suit the BBC = Bought By Continentals, or, its Editors, would it!?

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  • 3. At 02:04am on 08 Jun 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    Mark,

    what about a EU total failure.

    EU sceptics gained, plus people not noting, or spoiling their vote

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  • 4. At 02:26am on 08 Jun 2009, justfelix76 wrote:

    How is the low participation to the EU polls any different than the low participation in the UK local elections? Both are in the same ballpark: disappointing low. This DOES not mean that EU citizen are mistrusting the EU and favor national/local governments. It means only that the EU citizens see all politicians alike, from mayors and local council members, to national MPs and MEPs.

    It means that old style of politics, with one bright face for the controlled media like print and TV, and with another real face behind close doors is a thing of the past. The digital age is taking over the old politics style. Nothing can be kept behind closed doors anymore in the age of Twiter, Facebook, etc. What the participation mean is that the EU citizens want to see a new political class emerging all across the board, from the village city mayor to the next President of the European Union.

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  • 5. At 02:35am on 08 Jun 2009, MTE_05 wrote:

    Giving the ridiculously low turnout - below even 30% in some countries - I'd say the social democrats lost more votes to apathy than they did to the Left, the EPP, or anyone else.

    For the same reason, it's not so much that people are supporting the status quo as it is that the supporters of the status quo are the only ones bothering to vote.

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  • 6. At 02:46am on 08 Jun 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    if EUsceptics will manage to get an early election in UK and finish the pro-EU Labour off.
    this will be the biggest headache for the pro-EU elites and a full blow to their dreams for more power.
    Brown is a problem, MPs/MEPs expenses are a pronlem, EU is a problem.. so bring on the elections now and lets solve all these problems right now.

    only we the people can have the final decision.

    EU failed, and if it doesnot listen and the elites leave their positions and an investigation must begin as soon as possible, EU will soon finish like Labour and Barroso like Brown.

    I am asking myself.. how can you trust a Vote in Romania, or Bulgaria.. when politicans there are not afraid to pocket EU funds through corruption?

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  • 7. At 02:47am on 08 Jun 2009, ChristopherUSA wrote:

    As I watched the BBC's European election coverage for hours, it was quite amusing to witness the self righteous BBC hosts and commentators lecture Nick Griffin about the joys of diversity, whilst not allocating a mere ten seconds to a non-white commentator throughout the whole broadcast. Interesting.

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  • 8. At 03:39am on 08 Jun 2009, Tux789 wrote:

    I think the BBC has forgotten about Scotland and N Ireland as their votes will actually show some conservative losses if only a seat and will probably see good results for the SNP. I think in the end Labour will be second as UKIP is very small in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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  • 9. At 03:59am on 08 Jun 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    Mark, what i expect now is:

    UK become a EUsceptics strong-hold, and a platform for exposing the pro-EU elites, and name and shame them of EU corruption.
    Baltic countries in riots very soon. Russian minorities not happy with vote and economic crisis.
    Romania and Bulgaria, inept and increasing corruption as in this vote.

    EU has failed, they can't buy the votes, can they?
    the pro-EU parties used EU taxpayers money to fund their pro-EU propaganda electoral campaign to vote for EU.

    what a missuse of taxpayers money, where people dont vote and many are EUsceptics who dont get same funding opportunity.

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  • 10. At 04:20am on 08 Jun 2009, ChrisfromMI wrote:

    Hi, I know I'm from the united states so I'm sure most of you won't really give my point a second thought, BUT having said this, I don't understand this argument by some of the posters. To say that the EP lacks a mandate because only an average of 43% of Europeans voted(and by the way a few countries were well in the 90s)confuses me since we in the US never used that logic when our elections had even smaller percentages than that.

    I am comparing this EP election to my country's legislative elections, and especially our 2006 elections as our turnout naturally is higher during a presidential year. The turn out for our lower house of Congress was only 36.8% and for the upper house was merely 29.7%. So by this "no mandate" logic, I guess for two years we lacked the same thing here in the US.

    I would also like to point out that in 2006 was a "change" election with high voter dissatisfaction over the government at the time. Which then logic would dictate MORE people would have voted then our small part of our population.

    So I guess overall I think this whole talking about EP as pointless because the lowest turnout ever has happened is in itself pointless. It doesn't matter if they have a mandate or not, they are still going to be a legislative body and they will continue to handle the EU budget and they will continue to have a say on European policy. So as someone who until the elections of 2008 was rather dissatisfied with my government, all you can do is vote that's the only way change will happen. Although I should add I don't really condone voting for racist political parties and the whole far-right thing is a bit scary from an outside perspective.

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  • 11. At 04:31am on 08 Jun 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    I think you'd have seen a huge turnout if one of the options on the ballot had been "NO" which is precisely why it wasn't on any ballot. Interesting contrast to the recent US elections where there were record turnouts and great enthusiasm.

    The EU will announce that the election was a great success and a mandate to continue on. And that is what it will do, continue to usurp power from its member's governments and consolidate its own power. Now even the pretense of the EU as a democratic institution is dead, the tyrannical emperor is naked but heaven help anyone in Europe who makes a peep about it.

    As an American, I feel this is the most desirable structure for an adversary to have, a centralized authoritarian, isolated, unaccountable, detached, and detested government that controls all. Orwell could hardly have invented better.

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  • 12. At 06:20am on 08 Jun 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    The Proportional Representation system was not proportional enough as the Conservatives only needed 1.19% of the vote to get a seat whereas UKIP needed 1.34%. The poor old BNP needed 3.25% to get one seat.

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  • 13. At 06:21am on 08 Jun 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    I still say we need the Single Transferable Vote system.

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  • 14. At 07:49am on 08 Jun 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    Mr. Mardell: The first problem we have here is, that it is difficult to generalize for the whole continent. The right side has gained but notice for instance that the right wing Law and Justice Party in Poland lost support.

    The Social Democrats (SD) have a number of problems. The first is the profile of their voters. SOME of these voters are authoritarian and do not like foreigners, whom they cannot speak to because they do not speak a foreign language. (Our Polish correspondent should ask himself, why the Polish plumber was able to turn over the EU constitution in France and Holland.) This group of SD voters are likely to change party both in national and European elections to the benefit of the populist right.
    Many of the SD voters have short educations and they do not have a lot of knowledge about EU or international politics, which is yet another reason, why they are difficult to mobilise.

    The SD-parties are responsible for the problem too. They make national campaigns as it could be seen on the photos in this blog. It is a major strategic error by the SD. They should tell their voters that an overwhelmingly part of the national legislation originates from the EP, and make it clear that EU is a central battlefield. (Would be great if the media would do the same.) Add to this national problems like those in the UK.

    A part of the left is doing well: In Berlin the Greens were close to win as the largest party!!
    Environment and energy, which are also international and transnational themes, are essential to the green voter. S/he is well educated, international oriented, speaks a foreign language, knows how to handle a computer and has already identified Europe as the place. Add to this that the green parties are campaigning as Europeans and that their voters are easy to mobilise.

    We need to have a serious discussion with our friends in the SD parties!

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  • 15. At 08:07am on 08 Jun 2009, Englishman in Strasbourg wrote:

    The election results demonstrate just how ridiculous democracy can be when the populous have no idea what they're actually voting for.

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  • 16. At 08:18am on 08 Jun 2009, I am not a number wrote:

    @14 Mathiasen: "They should tell their voters that an overwhelmingly part of the national legislation originates from the EP"

    What? And tell them that 20% of the laws comes from Europe and this also depends on the competence? The more political sensitive the issue the more likely it's not an EU competence... that would certainly help. :p

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  • 17. At 08:32am on 08 Jun 2009, avorious wrote:

    The historically low vote in Europe seems to indicate that the people on the European mainland don't care / didn't bother / feel genuinely disenfranchised.

    Meanwhile, we in Ireland (who apparently attempted to "derail the European project" in the recent Lisbon referendum - the only plebiscite on the charter in the EC, by the way) managed a nearly two-thirds voter turnout in the election.

    If a majority of the citizens of all these other states bothered to vote, they could legitimately question the motivation of the Irish electorate's views in referenda; as it is, they don't use their voice, they don't use their vote.

    Zombie electorate anyone?
    --

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  • 18. At 09:25am on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    JustFelix76 and #4.

    "..How is the low participation to the EU polls any different than the low participation in the UK local elections?"

    How many times do you and other 'pro-EU' lobbyists intend to come up with this utterly spurious argument that has no basis in Political-Constitutional or even logical argument?
    There is absolutely no comparison between the authority-impact of To pretend there is any connection between electing a Mayor or Councillor with an MEP is a shoddy, duplicitous last-gasp justification of the EU's continued existence.

    The European Union Parliament is a body that develops-creates-passes Legislation affecting National and pan-National Government.

    The local Council only passes bye-laws based on National and these days EU Law that eminates from those MEPs and the EU Commission.

    Now, you may claim this as "...all politicians are alike..", in the eyes of the European Citizen Electorate, but, it is clear the EU Electoral Turnout is far lower than for all National Government Elections across the 27 Member Nations.
    Therefore, the European Union Parliament with 4 successively lower Turnouts of under 50% has NO MANDATE to develop-create-pass Law affecting any European Citizens.
    It really is that simple.

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  • 19. At 09:33am on 08 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    SuffolkBoy2:
    ikamaskeip:
    democracythreat:

    Well, the people spoke. Why didn't UKIP sweep the board if, as you keep claiming, everyone wants to get out of the EU?

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  • 20. At 09:34am on 08 Jun 2009, frenchderek wrote:

    Not voting can be taken only as a vote for whatever the voting majority decide - whether you like it or not.

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  • 21. At 09:42am on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    ChrisFromM1 and #10.

    re, "..only an avergae of 43% of voters.."
    No, 43% was the total Turnout across the EU: I.e. 57% of the Electorate did not vote at all.

    re, "..comparing this EP election to my country's (USA) legislative elections (2006).."
    No, there is no comparison of any sort between the 50 States elections from essentially 2 Political Parties to 2 Legislative chambers of a 1 Nation that also elects a President and the range of Constitutional arrangements, Political Parties etc. 27 EU Member States elections have in place beside the EP, other than US and EU Citizens are afforded the opportunity to Vote.

    re, ".. it doesn't matter if they have a mandate or not.. they will continue to have a say on European policy.."
    Yes, you spotted the total flaw in the idea/proposition the EU is in any way a DEMOCRATIC institution!

    I can assure you for millions of Citizens INSIDE this undemocratic, unaccountable and unrepresentative body the EU is indeed more than a "..bit scary.." as for any with an "..outside perspective."

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  • 22. At 10:05am on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    greyployglot and "19.

    re, "..well the people spoke.."

    No, the Citizens did not speak except to stay away from the Elections to an EU Parliament: That silence may or may not speak volumes about how the 450 million view the EU, I cannot say, but I know enough about a Voter Turnout of 43.5% to call Pres Barroso an outright liar when he claims it was a "..success for those who want a European project.."

    I also have never claimed ".. everyone wants to get out of the EU..", (even within UK/England with Voter Turnout under 36%( which is in contrast with you, who constantly does proclaim the EU is popular, but, on this and all Citizen participation over the last decade clearly is not the case.

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  • 23. At 10:18am on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    frenchdreck and #20.

    re, "..Not voting can be taken only as a vote for whatever the voting majority decide.."

    The hypocrisy of the 'pro-EU' lobbyist in full duplicity mode!

    I refer you to your and other pro-EU lobby Comments on the Turnout/Result of the Eire Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty!
    Apparently you took the opposite view of the 'no-voters' in that Referendum - - what a shambles the pro-EU view is when they cannot explain/justify anything about the EU's lack of Mandate from the Citizens, except to turn on its head their previous argument!?

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  • 24. At 10:23am on 08 Jun 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    Well, 90% turnout in Belgium. Obviously a 1000 Euro fine motivates people out of bed on a Sunday morning. Despite the Socialists losing plenty of seats to the Greens (in the Walloon region) the status quo is maintained.

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  • 25. At 10:37am on 08 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    "22. ikamaskeip:

    greyployglot and "19.

    re, "..well the people spoke.."

    No, the Citizens did not speak except to stay away from the Elections to an EU Parliament:"

    Maybe you don't know the French saying that translates as "he who says nothing consents". The opportunity was there to give a resounding "NO" to the EU. It was not taken up.

    I do not "constantly ... proclaim the EU is popular". You misrepresent me. I am, of course, aware of the anti-EU clamour in the UK. How could I not be? But making a lot of noise doesn't make you right.

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  • 26. At 11:40am on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    greypolyglot and #25.

    Hmm! Ducking and diving as the true, proud 'pro-EU lobbyist' must!

    I see this time you've gone for the 'A Man For All Seasons' argument as expressed by Sir Thomas More when refusing to state one way or another whether he agreed King Henry VIII Divorce from Catherine of Aragon was legal.

    A nice try, but inevitably, it just moves the weakness of the EU (post Parliament elections) argument further along the page and into another scene.
    If 'silence' or 'non-participation' is indeed to be taken as Consent then I refer you to my #23 on here and to a number of your replies to me and others when debating Eire's Lisbon Referendum: The 'pro-EU' lobby cannot fix the numbers so its shamrock is 3 and 4 leaf variety! If the silence of the Eire Citizens is consent to Lisbon then why would a 2nd Referednum be needed!?
    Indeed why hold any Referendum on any matter or even EU Parliament elections when for the last 2 the 'Silent Majority' have by your reckoning given Consent to the EU Federalist project!?

    It is apparent that the 'pro-EU' lobby stance is that when a Majority Vote in favour of an EU measure/policy etc. that is Consent to the proposals and when a Majority of the Vote is against an EU measure/policy etc. then the non-voters are to be taken into account and seen as Consent, as well!

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  • 27. At 12:22pm on 08 Jun 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    #26. ikamaskeip
    Did you notice that this thread is about Social Democrats? Their voters stayed at home, but the EU structure stays. Not least because liberals and conservatives in Europe - with the exception of the British Tories, which prefer to join some strange bed fellows, are in favour of the single market. Plus a couple of other things.

    For obvious reasons I very much hesitate to give people permission to shoot themselves in the foot. But it is what it is if the Iris or the UK reject the Lisbon treaty. Or if the UK starts a process that leads to its exit of the EU.

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  • 28. At 12:38pm on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    Christopher USA and #7.

    re, "..watched BBC's European Election coverage.. amusing to witness self-righteous BBC hosts and commentators lecture Nick Griffin about joys of 'diversity'.. not even 10-seconds allocated to non-white commentator.."

    Very Interestig observation. You are not alone in wondering how the BBC gets away with it!?

    This is the BBC that some 20 years ago published its flagship BBC Times magazine with 50 images on the front-cover and the only non-white face was behind bars!
    This is the BBC that has a positive ethnic recruitment policy but if you can find a non-white Programme anywhere on BBC's two mainstream Television Channels at a prime viewing time, do let us all, know!
    This is a BBC that by the last UK Census should be in receipt of upwards of 5 million non-white TV License Fees, but, if you can point to a similar % recognotion or placement of non-white TV characters, please do say!

    Then again: BBC = British Broadcasting Corporation; of that total UK Population 49,000,000 live within England's borders (80% of License Fees are paid in England)! If you can find any representation of the Majority English point of view on the European Union, ID Cards, Immigration, Devolved Government, an English Parliament etc., in any BBC TV, Radio, Internet scheduling then the ENGLISH would be very grateful.

    So, you see, the 'diversity' thing has an array of missing-links all the way through BBC Editorial perspective of UK Culture, Heritage and Politics.

    As a case in point look no further than BBC coverage (inc. this Blog Article from Mr Mardell) on the EU Parliament Election results - - according to BBC it is all about the 'left'/'social democrats' losing ground to the 'right' - - when the real story in the UK is a disastrous 35% Voter Participation thus reflecting yet again complete UK/England disillusion with the EU.
    If you can record more than 2 minutes of BBC coverage given over to this 'anti-EU' aspect of the British results, then that will be a first in British Broadcasting history!

    Not for nothing over the last 2 decades do many English License Payers increasingly regard BBC as, 'Bought By Continentals'!

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  • 29. At 1:23pm on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    Mathiasen and #27.

    Did you happen to notice my Comment at #2?

    You are right to be wary of giving advice about the EU: I think that is the obvious line to take when a 43.5% Voter Turnout across the European Union clearly shows the 'pro-EU' such as yourself the EU is in deep trouble with the Citizens not only in the UK but across mainland Europe!

    You, greyployglot, the Commission, President Barosso, the BBC et al can go on pulling the wool over your own eyes and ignoring the single, glaring, genuinely significant outcome of the recent European Parliament Election, but, the Majority of Europe will in return continue ignoring the EU because it is Undemocratic (see 57% non-voters!?), it is Unaccountable (see MEPs with less than 33% voter mandate making Laws for 450,000,000 Citizens!?) and it is Unresponsive (see Pres Barosso proclaiming the elections were a a pro-EU victory!?).

    Mathiasen, believe it or not, I do sympathise with you: You have argued your side with intelligence and determination, but, the EU Parliament Elections for the 2nd time in a row show the Majority of Europeans do not concur with your views and the MEPs will be returning to Brussels minus any Citizen Mandate to continue the EU Federalist project.
    That those Commissioners and MEPs will persist with this facade of legitimacy merely reveals even more clearly how much you have lost the argument and how out of touch the EU is with the People it disgracefully claims to represent.

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  • 30. At 2:21pm on 08 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    "26. ikamaskeip:

    greypolyglot and #25.

    Hmm! Ducking and diving as the true, proud 'pro-EU lobbyist' must!"

    Forgive me, please, if I insist. The opportunity was there to give a resounding "NO" to the EU. It was not taken up. How do you explain that?

    Now let's see you duck and dive around that one.

    By the way, if you're the chap in Helsingfors who's being shortchanged on his pension by the Finns I would urge you to grit your teeth and get the European Commission on the case because I strongly suspect that someone in Finland has misunderstood whats/he has to do. Google europa.eu/citizensrights for a link.

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  • 31. At 2:38pm on 08 Jun 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    #29., ikamaskeip
    I have forgotten about #2 but looking at it again I do not see any remarks on Social Democrats apart from a passing comment.
    It would be improper to start writing about personal experiences with voters. Let me just say that I have seen a couple of things and that includes voters staying at home yesterday even if they are much in favour of the EU. Sometimes you understand why people stay at home sometimes you do not.

    It would be desirable if the turnout would be higher at these elections, but the lack of interest cannot be said to be a protest against the EU. No one has the authority to speak on behalf of silent voters.

    There are situations where you can demand consistency of people, however this is not the case here. It is therefore very well possible that some voters vote in one direction for instance by general elections and the opposite direction by EP elections. (As a Danish subject I have a few experiences with that kind of voters.)

    Social Democrats are seldom in this category. They are unhappy with the inconsistency and sometimes they solve the problem by staying at home, but if you stay at home you let the rest of the voters take the decision. If you then afterwards go to the national general election and vote SPD (Labour) you have endorsed the politics, including the EU politics, of the party.

    Inconsistent positions will be ignored by politics if possible. Interests are at stake.
    Mathiasen, Berlin

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  • 32. At 8:30pm on 08 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    greypolyglot and #30.

    No, I'm not the Helsingfors chap - - hadn't heard about it until your post.

    As for the Majority non-voter Turnout it is typical of the 'pro-EU' ploy and I have mentioned this in your case and others before now, to promptly move the goalposts, as soon as the 'pro' argument loses its logic or is challenged on reality.

    However, to explain the absence of a high Turnout by the 'antis' I can only speak from my own perspective as one who did not vote and who knows others of a similar disposition:
    I believe, though have no cast iron proof, that like myself the decison not to participate was because we know (and indeed Pres Barroso's incredibly duplicitous comments of a vote in "..support for pro-EU policy.." last night have already endorsed the view) any Vote whether negative or positive is always taken and misused by the European Union. 1) Any increase in the Citizens' votes would have been claimed as evidence of the EU restoring its credibility. 2) Any significant increase in the Citizens' votes that was 'anti' must have Political Parties/Candidates available to specifically aim for (e.g. whilst the Conservatives are EUrosceptic in the UK they are hardly pushing policies for withdrawal) and thus the EU could and on past record would traduce the figures as a Mandate for the EU Parliament. 3) Any dramatic increase in the 'anti-EU' Political groupings (which in the UK/England did occur as the Tory, UKIP and BNP are all EUro-sceptic) in the European Parliament would have persuaded the EU Commission to precipitate policy-shifts that substantially and rapidly increased the overall powers of the EU. Finally, 4) any increase would have been out of step with the present disillusionment among all electorate (anti and pro) given the general Economic/Fiscal downturn and to be fair that is not the EU or any one organisations' fault or possibility to resolve unilaterally.

    So, there you have it: An explanation of why the 'antis' stayed away. Now, I am still waiting for you or any 'pro-EU' to actually attempt a genuine validation of the new European Parliament on a pan-European Electoral Turnout of 43.5% - - any chance you have even the vaguest notion how to explain that alarming shortfall from the 'pro' perspective!?

    And please, let's not have another re-run of the Local Government or Eire voter turnouts; it does become very tiresome to read for the umpteenth time about how 'No' actually meant yes because thousands misunderstood the names Nice and Lisbon etc. or that the election of the Mayor of Casterbridge has any resemblance to an Election to a pan-European Legislative assembly!

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  • 33. At 11:17pm on 08 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    32. ikamaskeip:

    Well I wanted to see how you would duck and dive to explain the fact that there was no massive UKIP vote and I have to admit that you've surpassed yourself. Your verbal gymnastics are exemplary.

    How do I explain the low turnout? An appalling failure by the EU institutions to actively explain their functions and actions in language that everyone can understand. I've seen some quite good literature but you have to ask for it. Of course if they were to send it out to every household there'd be certain people screaming 'propaganda' and criticising the expense. So it's "damned if you don't and damned if you do".

    And let's not forget a fairly widespread antipathy to ALL politicians in the UK at the moment.

    However, despite your best efforts I simply cannot understand why, if as some claim, there are so many people who want the UK out of the EU, they did not seize this golden opportunity to shout it from the rooftops. What will they do now, sit on the sidelines and just carry on whinging ineffectually?

    A validation of the low turnout? In many countries voting is optional. I imagine that people either couldn't be bothered or had things to do that they considered more important. That's quite sad really for both sides of the debate, pro and anti.

    Since spoiled ballot papers aren't separated into "deliberately" and "accidentally" spoiled I'd support the idea of a "none of the above" option on the voting slips so that people could register their disenchantment.

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  • 34. At 02:57am on 09 Jun 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I know of a good way to increase part-taking in elections, only some radical changes would have to be implemented, LOL, say, 2 weeks in advance.
    Here in Soviet times nobody wanted to go vote, because everyone got the angle after the first time. No idiots. So poor Kremlin eager for decent turn up numbers always did the same thing - arranged "moving markets / shopping stalls", in schools where elections were held technically. Normally ballots' casting was organised on weekends in local schools. On the 2nd floor - ballots, and on the ground - sales of foreign deficit goods. You could always count on some shoes or pens or foreign toilet paper. :o)))) whatever. Goods "from socialistic countries", of course, the Warsaw block ones. From far abroad - out of the question, even for eections' sake.
    Now, imagine every blogger for a sec that all that is not made in your own country - vanishes from the shelves, supermarket shelves, shopping malls, department sotores. Mentally wipe away all "foreign made" and imagine what you are left with. That was USSR - all home made, from cheese to last nail. In such conditions, when your country doesn't buy anything foreign on principle, at that, for about 60 years in a row (so that the last foreign made pair of shoes is worn out to holes by all family members LOL growing up generations in turn. and your grandma's last bottle of French perfume is only stands decorating the toilet table as a reminder and "but can be sniffed still... if you sniff well..." And then, once in a year, on some elections - suddenly it's all sold to you u (a bit. "one - to hands") - all streamed towards election points. Under the banners "To elections - as to holiday! (with the same enthusiasm) and "Elections - is an honourable duty of every citizen."
    :o)
    For kids were always music and clowns and refreshments and pies and candies' sales' set. To encourage all to take kids with, so that they would learn from young years that elections - it's fun, cakes, music and parties - and when they grow up - they'd grow up with the best impressions and associations ab "elections".
    In short there worked a whole system of attraction.

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  • 35. At 07:29am on 09 Jun 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    #33. greypolyglot
    While 50% of the voters voted in Lithuania voted in 2004 it was this time only 20%, and many East European countries had a pronounced lower turnout than other EU countries. In Slovenia approximately 33% voted and in Slovakia the turnout was around 19% according to a prognose.
    Experts in the studies of East Europe interpret this as a signal of disappointment with the EU. They had expected more help (money) during the economic crisis, the experts say, and since the money has failed to appear the voters are not interested in the election.

    The average turnout for all member states was 43% and some countries must have counterbalanced the low interest in the East. In Denmark the turnout was approximately 60%. Germany had the average turnout, while at the coming election of Bundestag we are expecting 80%. You might know that all political parties from the left to the right in the German parliament are in favour of EU: The lack of opposition is another reason why voters are staying at home.
    Here in Berlin, where the turnout was disappointing 35%, I have made my own personal vox pop among three non-voters: One never votes by any election whatsoever (he is taxpayer) and can hardly spell politics, the two other are much in favour of the EU, but the first, a teacher, had other things to do and the second never registered as voter (he is an emigrant).

    We are lucky to have the political structure (EU) in place now in Europe. I believe the German chancellor Angela Merkel is right, when she says that people would demand the reconstruction if it disappeared, and people expect the EU to react on big crisis. The present has as you will know led Iceland to apply for membership of the EU.

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  • 36. At 07:41am on 09 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    greypolyglot and #33.

    re, "..have to admit you've surpassed yourself. Your verbal gymnastics were exemplary.."

    Hmm, the back-handed compliment!

    Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for you: Your reasons for the low Turnout were feeble and I would suggest totally endorsed my own viewpoint.

    For those unable to follow my "verbal dexterity" I have below put a precis version of points in my #32:

    1) Any Citizen voting must select MEP and therefore suggests support for the EU system.
    2) Any Citizen voting for 'anti-EU' groups risks contributing to statistics the EU will use in support of its existence.
    3) Any substantial 'anti-EU' Citizen voting would make the EU speed up Legislation increasing its Federalist EU power.
    4) Any Citizen who did not vote was possibly amongst those disillusioned by recent economic-monetary-political scandals and wrongly attaching blame to the EU.

    PS: Out of deference to your sensitivities, grey.., I did not mention in #32 my 5th point, i.e. Any Citizen not voting may be one who has suffered from the EU 'one-size-fits-all'/'strength through unity' policies that contributed to 21 million+ Unemployed within the inefficient, unresponsive EUrocratic-led EU.

    I, like you, despite your best efforts ".. simply cannot understand why.. if as some claim.." the EU to be such a magnificent entity "..there are so many people.." across Europe who ".. did not seize this golden opportunity to shout it from the rooftops.."!?

    PPS: Maybe 'None of the above' on the Ballot Paper would be a fair offer, but, in 2014, I can hear Pres Barosso now, "..those that did not like any of the above clearly were disappointed that there were not more Federal EU candidates for them to choose from... We will listen to the Citizens' concerns.. Next Election the EU will be popular..."

    Ho-hum!

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  • 37. At 08:20am on 09 Jun 2009, oulematu wrote:

    to webaliceinwonderland, to democracythreat:

    (This relates to an earlier thread which is for some reason still closed for comments, to prevent speculation that I'm trying to avoid the response). Ok, I get your point. If the people of a country, say the North Koreans, choose their leaders, they get what they deserve and its not anyone else's business.

    I disagree:

    1. Democratic countries are based on the believe that individual rights are acquired by birth and are inalienable.
    2. Countries get their sovereignty bestowed upon them by the international community subject to the condition that it will not be exercised to the detriment of individual rights. Governments which systematically breach individual rights act ultra vires. It is not acceptable for a corrupt elite, or even a manipulated majority, to systematically abuse individual rights.
    3. The international democratic community (on whose behalf acts not just one democratic country but the international democratic community as a whole) should pressure the transformation of authoritarian regimes into effective democracies. This is necessary not just to protect individual rights, but also to prevent future military conflicts. It is well known that democracies do not fight each other because people, to whom the government is accountable, have more productive uses for their time than fighting in the army. It is also well known that authoritarian countries are less immune to crazy solutions, given the absence of any checks and balances. In the absence of a world government, it is difficult to come up with a more perfect system unless we simply wish to renounce on the idea of individual human rights pursuant to the motto, I am not my brother's keeper and do not care for whom the bell tolls so long as I have a big gas-guzzling car and a big
    gas-heated house.
    4. By "forcing" change I do not mean military aggression, but it can involve all kinds of economic and political pressure as well as support for the democratic opposition forces and freely minded journalists (especially those that are still alive).
    5. In the special case of the EU and Russia, any coherent long term solution requires that the EU ditches its addiction to Russia's raw materials and corrects the grave foreign policy mistakes committed in the past by a number of member states that were subservient to the regime in Moscow to the detriment of the EU's long term interests. In this respect, I do share your scepticism regarding the EU's ability to exert positive influence on the regime in Moscow. The fact that the EU is not able to exert influence on Moscow to do something about the flagrant human rights violations and undemocratic practices in Russia, although Russia is 3x smaller than the EU and the size of its economy is comparable to the economy of The Netherlands alone, shows that the existing arrangements in the EU are not functional. The EU needs drastic reform in order to be able to start defending the EU's interests in the world.
    6. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not accept any arguments that Putin or Medvedev were freely chosen by the Russian voters. Those who do not vote for the right candicate have to face threats, they may lose their jobs and face other consequences. Those that demostrate are beaten up and jailed. Those that freely report on it are murdered.
    7. So long as Russia remains authoritarian, it will be a major threat to Eastern Europe. There is nothing touching about the effort to change this.

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  • 38. At 09:09am on 09 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #36. At 07:41am on 09 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    greypolyglot and #33.

    re, "..have to admit you've surpassed yourself. Your verbal gymnastics were exemplary.."

    Hmm, the back-handed compliment"

    Oh believe me, it was not intended as a compliment - not even a backhanded one!

    "Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for you:"

    Thank heavens!

    "Your reasons for the low Turnout were feeble and I would suggest totally endorsed my own viewpoint."

    Oh dear, in the strange world that you inhabit a straight answer is 'feeble'.

    "a precis version of points in my #32:

    1) Any Citizen voting must select MEP and therefore suggests support for the EU system.
    2) Any Citizen voting for 'anti-EU' groups risks contributing to statistics the EU will use in support of its existence."

    According to this logic standing as an MEP must do the same and UKIP and BNP are really supporting the EU. What an odd argument!

    "3) Any substantial 'anti-EU' Citizen voting would make the EU speed up Legislation increasing its Federalist EU power."

    In the first place there is no "federalist power" and in the second this argument is simply a belief or suspicion.

    "4) Any Citizen who did not vote was possibly amongst those disillusioned by recent economic-monetary-political scandals and wrongly attaching blame to the EU."

    Hurrah, a point of agreement!

    "Maybe 'None of the above' on the Ballot Paper would be a fair offer"

    Another point of agreement! But then you seem to backtrack, regret such weakness and reject the idea because "I can hear Pres Barroso now (speaking in 2014), '..those that did not like any of the above clearly were disappointed that there were not more Federal EU candidates for them to choose from'." Extraordinary auditory acuity to add to your "exemplary verbal gymnastics". Well done.

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  • 39. At 11:10am on 09 Jun 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    greypolyglot and #38.

    Oh dear, in the strange world you inhabit the 'superiority-EU streak' just cannot keep out of sight for long, can it!?
    I do repeat your explanation of the low Turnout was feeble:
    You contrived to avoid all mention of the idea people may not have voted because they do not support the EU. You even twist the UKIP and wretched BNP MEP candidature: Whichever way we 'anti-EU' put it according to you the EU gets its 'yes' vote, yet again! We suggest non-voters don't want to show any support for the EU, so you demand why didn't they take the chance to vote in large numbers, and, when we suggest those that did vote expressed 'anti-EU' views you demand there should be no candidates!?
    You compound this by now claiming there is no 'Federalist EU agenda' which is just so incredulous a suggestion it almost renders anything you claim on the EU's behalf as nul and void.
    You have a light laugh at my prediction of President Barosso's 2014 speech and yet are silent on his Sunday night speech in which he appears to agree with your logic that the most recent Elections with a Turnout of 43.5% were a resounding EU success.

    Extraordinary vacuity. Well done!

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  • 40. At 11:11am on 09 Jun 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    oulematu @37, I agree with some things that you wrote. But with other I don't. Many things that you take for granted I don't. Must be, that's why the difference.

    That's Dostoevsky type question to me, for example, whether to press a country that practices regime squeezing out rights of their individual citizens. NK or Russia. I mean I am not sure it'll be right to go and save even poor N Koreans, to say nothing ab us, who are LOL kind of far less "squeezed".

    Then of course it's a problem of a huge accummulated un-trust in the "democratic countries best intentions to provide for individual's rights in Russia." The most ardent anti-Putinist and critic of "all things wrong Russian" would pause at this stage, with 1 leg suspended, so to say, over the treshold, before asking "democratic countries" for help.
    There is a strong conviction that "There are no prohets in our own land. In other lands - there aren't too many, either!"
    In plain words we don't believe you are free yourselves, and that your population can act from best intentions towards Russians. It'll start as "only all things good for them" and end up your profit-makers squeesing Russian population, for political gains, monetary gains - whatever. We strongly believe a home devil is better than a foreign one.
    Or, as min., not worth changing one for another.

    "Authoritarian Russia major threat for Eastern Europe." Disputable, as well, because make no mistake democratic Russia will be the same LOL authoritarian and "threat" to the Eastern Europe. In the sense that anyone stronger is always "a threat" to anyone weaker. Wasn't democratic EU a threat to Serbia? Isn't democratic USA a threat to anyone they wish?

    There is kind of a fault with your argument that democratic countries aren't threat to others. I think "threat" has more to do with countries' strength and relations with others. Why undemocratic Russia isn't threat to Armenia? and you name it? Simply, good relations.
    Complex theoretical theory-tising, again. As for practical things - Russia is "a threat" and will be to anyone who harms its interests. Likewise the EU is "a threat", and any separate country is "a threat" to other countries harming their interests.
    Exercising the same means that all have got - media, alliances with opponents, economic tariffs/barriers, etc.

    If by threat you mean military take over - over Eastern Europe, I'd relax in that direction. We wholeheartily don't want them. Does Britain want France? Does France want to rule Britain? Same thing. We feel offended by their ungratefulness, re liberation in the 2nd WW, re freindly times together when Russians honestly thought we don't treat them as any "subjugated country" but as friends - and now they turn up all history upside down to fit modern political trends, to squeeze a tear out of the Western Europe. It looks plain disgusting to us, and no, we don't want to have anything in common. Becuase we think any Rusian relation with them now will be to their favour. Surprie surprise. Well, the previous favours they cast down as offence, twice - only idiots impose their friendship the third time. To step on the same rakes. There is some self-respect, or I don't know. We won't impose "Russian things" on them. They haven't yet finished singing the Ode to "how awful it was with Russia". The opera is not yet over, let them sing it to the end.
    (you note my offended tone? that's how it is.)

    That Russia is un-democratic - granted it is. But that the USA or the EU is a doctor for us - give me a break. I'd ask for help. Like "Help! Anybody!" But nobody to call to. Both entities if asked for assistance would far sooner bury us then fix.

    "countries get sovereignity bestowed on them courtesy of int'l community granted it does not work to the detriment of the individual rights"
    ??? Don't know who granted others, LOL, sovereignity, and how far well were the inividual's rights were taken into account in the process :o))))
    Anyway. it is funny and theoretical, again. Russia has got its sovereignity LOL itself, kind of a thousand years ago exactly, and don't remember waiting for anyone's permission or int'l community - and that how all countries came into existence. Did many agree for sovereignity of the United States? Were not worried about rights of a couple of categories of its citisens. I think nobody waited for "int'l community" in the past but if you suggest to review the world organisation rules, by UN or whatever committees sit down, reviewing country by country - do we grant them sovereignity or not? But 228 countries' equal vote, presumably? Well, an un-orthodox idea. But can be discussed.

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  • 41. At 1:12pm on 09 Jun 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    oulematu, I've got a practical idea. What will convince Russians the EU and the USA or, whatever, "Western", "democratic" - are worth listening to.

    Now, even that we grumble ab "Eastern Europe" ungratefullness, we still wish them well. So, for their sake, to do something nice for them, the 3rd time, LOL - I'd take a bet.

    Fix Eastern Europe - this will convince Russians.
    Nothing convinces better than deeds.

    You understand what I mean. You can't fix Latvia, where all can be taken down and done anew, like a doll's house, not only in 20 years - in 4 years' time - and attempt to fix Russia.

    That the EU gave the Eastern-Central Europeans right to gaterbeit - doesn't convince Russia. We can do this as well. Whole ex-USSR gasterbeits here. It's not something "to learn".
    That the EU lends them money - this does not convince Russia. We can as well. And, LOL, we even know how to give and not ask back. Not a , how to say, advanced technically post-modernist society skill, "to learn".
    That the EU taught the newcomers how to vote democratically - good point, excellent best demonstrated practice, we tick it "FOR", "to learn".

    But that seems about all?

    Will the EU let any Eastern European country out? Can you live with the idea that someone of your ex is not the EU? That'll be a good test. Will you still help them, when they are independent? From good intentions, simply - that their own country, that they are masters of, is a well-doing safe neighbour?
    It seems to me Eastern Europe isn't own masters. They got out of flame into fire, or how to put it. Would be nice to see one who is neither "Russian zone of influence" neither "the EU" nor "the EU zone of influence" but own masters of themselves.

    How bad we are all combined neighbours, if nobody can help a neutral country simply be itself, not pursuing own interests, wanting something from them , them as a "market", as a "buffer", as a military base.


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  • 42. At 2:28pm on 09 Jun 2009, Mathiasen wrote:

    Hallo WebAlice,
    I admit the moderators are very patient, but have you detected the address? The British Broadcasting Company is host here, and the company has a blog on Europe, which in fact is mostly about the EU. This present thread is about Social Democrats, who have had a bad result by the election to the European parliament.

    I can tell you, that one of the consequences has been that conservatives have gained and that Barroso will continue as president of the commission. Another is that right wing radicals representing the UK are now becoming members of the EP.

    However none of this will change on the fact that a vast majority of parliamentarians representing socialists, greens, liberals and conservatives and liberals are to right in the political spectrum only in another way than the conservatives, are in favour of the EU. The parliament will now continue its EU legislation and probably approve Barroso too.

    In the meantime we will try if we can convince the Social Democrats to be less national in the campaigns.

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  • 43. At 3:12pm on 09 Jun 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    oulematu wrote:
    "1. Democratic countries are based on the believe that individual rights are acquired by birth and are inalienable.
    2. Countries get their sovereignty bestowed upon them by the international community subject to the condition that it will not be exercised to the detriment of individual rights. Governments which systematically breach individual rights act ultra vires. It is not acceptable for a corrupt elite, or even a manipulated majority, to systematically abuse individual rights.
    3. The international democratic community (on whose behalf acts not just one democratic country but the international democratic community as a whole) should pressure the transformation of authoritarian regimes into effective democracies."

    oulematu, that sounds great. that all sounds absolutely fantastic.

    But please tell me, is the UK part of this "international democratic community"?

    Surely, following your three points, the UK cannot be an acceptable part of the international democratic community. The UK has no bill of rights. Indeed, some people in the UK are born with rights that transcend the rights of others. The queen, the hereditary lords.... I mean, you are aware that some people in the UK are born into government, are you not?

    And what constitutes an "abuse" of individual rights? The English lords and royalty say that they are always serving the people. They claim they do not abuse anyone. So do the leaders of North Korea, China and Saudi Arabia.

    Now the law lords of the UK (that is their own term for themselves) have routinely held that the UK has no bill of rights, only the common law and the royal prerogative, both of which enshrine certain select individuals as having more rights than others. And these select individuals make a fortune out of their power, which is not limited to military actions overseas.

    So what is an "authoritarian regime"? And what constitutes "democratic practice"?

    I don't think you understand these terms in a specific, useful way. You infer that the USA is a democratic regime. Perhaps it is, given the right definition. But it supports theocratic monarchies in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, in order to further its economic aims. The USA trades with China for economic reasons that really only suit the most wealthy people in the USA. So is the US regime truly democratic? Or is it oligarchic?

    And this term "authoritarian", what does that mean? Why is Russia more authoritarian than the UK or the USA? Is Russia not a democracy, built on precisely the same model as the USA? After all, Russia elects its head of state. The UK does not.

    Your grand words and emotional appeals to democracy betray a simple cultural loyalty. Anything Russia does is authoritarian and bad, and anything the english speaking nations do is democratic and good. You then cloak this raw cultural bias in political terminology, appealing to democracy because that system of government has an intellectual appeal. I find this intellectually dishonest.

    I remind you that China and the UK have active policies to police the internet, and to punish those who wish to use the internet in ways that threaten the economic and therefore political power of dominant entities within their societies. In China the people who use the internet to circumvent the will of the state are cut off from communications. In the UK, people who use the internet to circumvent the will of the corporations who sponsor the state are cut off from communication.

    Why is china authoritarian, whilst the UK is not?

    The word "authoritarian" applies to every regime that exercises authority. Pointing it at Russia does not make a convincing case that Russia is a threat.

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  • 44. At 5:39pm on 09 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    "#39. ikamaskeip:

    greypolyglot and #38.

    your explanation of the low Turnout was feeble:
    You contrived to avoid all mention of the idea people may not have voted because they do not support the EU."

    OK, I'll readily grant that people may have chosen not to vote at all because they do not support the EU. Was it 10 or 10 million? I don't know and have no means of asking them. Do you? By the way poll results, pro or anti, should be taken with a pinch of salt because, would you believe it?, people tell lies.

    "We suggest non-voters don't want to show any support for the EU, so you demand why didn't they take the chance to vote in large numbers,"

    That does seem like a fair question me. Had they chosen to do so then, if one believes UKIP supporters estimates of their support, they could have swept the board. Reality check, they didn't.

    "when we suggest those that did vote expressed 'anti-EU' views you demand there should be no candidates!?"

    I did not. I do find it ironic that UKIP's greatest successes are to be found within the EU system from which they seek to distance themselves.

    "You compound this by now claiming there is no 'Federalist EU agenda' which is just so incredulous a suggestion it almost renders anything you claim on the EU's behalf as nul and void."

    I would like a federalist agenda but sadly there isn't one, no matter how much you shout the opposite.

    "You have a light laugh at my prediction of President Barosso's 2014 speech"

    More of a belly laugh actually.

    "he appears to agree with your logic that the most recent Elections with a Turnout of 43.5% were a resounding EU success."

    Now, now, I have made no such assertion. 90% would be "a resounding EU success" and that, sadly, is unlikely to be achieved in my lifetime.

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  • 45. At 5:44pm on 09 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #41. WebAliceinwonderland:

    Will the EU let any Eastern European country out?"

    The Lisbon Treaty contains an exit mechanism. I find it inexplicable that the people in the UK who want the country to leave the EU are against a Treaty that provides a way out.

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  • 46. At 7:43pm on 09 Jun 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot, your analysis would be more convincing if you were able to explain the deafening silence from ALL european politicians on the subject of direct democracy.

    Let us be clear, the refusal to discuss the issue of direct democracy is universal amongst politicians who wish to make a career in the system. It is very far from universal amongst the general population of Europe.

    The UKIP have campaigned for a referendum, and the key point to note is the singular. A referendum. NOT a process of referenda for the people on demand.

    That was what I took away from Mark Mardell's scathing report on the UKIP a few weeks ago. He correctly pointed out that the members of the UKIP were trading on the public anger at being denied a referendum on EU membership, but that they were also accepting money from the EU to pay their family members for political duties.

    Still, as time goes on the debate between those who favour the EU and those who do not is becoming a debate between those who have contempt for democracy and those who want more democracy. The further we go down that road, the more certain is the demise of the EU and the arrogant party members who live from the taxes of those who do real work.

    I dearly hope that the EU continues to provoke and enrage the people by showing outright contempt for their legitimate desire to be heard, because perhaps that will force the people of Europe to think deeply about the flaws in their national models of representative democracy, and to seek a more meaningful participation in political affairs.

    After all, it is the two party westminster system that pervades European states, and it is precisely this system which allowed the parties to create an EU that they could control without any fear of censure from the people.

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  • 47. At 9:19pm on 09 Jun 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #46. democracythreat:

    greypolyglot, your analysis would be more convincing if you were able to explain the deafening silence from ALL european politicians on the subject of direct democracy."

    I'm not their spokesman. If you want answers to that then I suggest that you take it up with them directly. Contact details of all MEPs and European Commissioners are a matter of public record.

    The only authority that can grant a referendum in the UK on continued UK membership of the EU is the British government. If the present one won't give you what you want then get a UKIP government elected at the next UK general election.

    But we both know that won't happen, don't we? Take a close look at the cv of each UKIP MEP and councillor and let me know if you think there's anyone there you'd trust to actually run the country. Sorry, but they're a one-trick pony. They'll also rake in pots of dosh while pretending to do what they were elected to do. Look at the track record of Kilroy-Silk and Wise for a start.

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  • 48. At 12:01pm on 10 Jun 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot wrote:
    "Take a close look at the cv of each UKIP MEP and councillor and let me know if you think there's anyone there you'd trust to actually run the country."

    I wouldn't trust that parade of clowns to run down to the corner shop and buy a loaf of bread. That was rather my point about them. I think we agree regarding the UKIP.

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  • 49. At 1:44pm on 12 Jun 2009, marcel75 wrote:

    The defeat of the socialist parties has one reason and one reason only. People see them as responsible for encouraging mass immigration, which the majority of peoples oppose. Mass immigration is stimulated by the socialists because they need a new electorate, and by the elites who want to undermine national sovereignty and national identity.

    In my viewpoint the socialist defeat wasn't heavy enough.

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  • 50. At 08:29am on 17 Jun 2009, oulematu wrote:

    To webalice: If one accepts the premise that all humans acquire certain fundamental rights by birth, then it is difficult to understand what gives any government the right to deny such rights to its citizens. You are essentially saying that the populations of certain countries are second-class citizens and it should stay that way if that's what their governments want. I cannot agree and I find this way of thinking utterly abhorrent - it is essentially just a way of legitimizing the evil and unequality that unfortunately still exists in this world. Anyway, this is an ideological debate, and I'm sure both your and my arguments have many proponents around the world. We can't expect to resolve this debate here, although I would hope you might be willing to consider this further.

    There also seems to be a wealth of empirical evidence that tends to support the proposition that democratic countries do not pose a threat to each other. This makes sense, because where individuals and businesses can rely on their individual rights, they will typically go about their respective individual concerns (which they should ideally be able to pursue in any democratic country, not just a specific one) and have no need to support artificial nationalistic or even military causes which may be hypocritically put forward by certain politicians or leaders to suit their hidden agendas. A truly democratic Russia, which respects the rights of its citizens, would be the best guarantee that Russia will not threaten Europe. I am not inherently prejudiced against Russia or Russians, and I would welcome such development, although I am not sure (and perhaps you can help me understand) how Russia (or Iran for that matter) can get there or how the democratic community can assist them in this worthy effort.

    Until that happens, I believe that the EU should in its own interest urgently come up with ways that can reduce dependence on Russian commodity imports.

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  • 51. At 6:48pm on 15 Jul 2009, DeaconNell wrote:

    All Russians are sinistra.

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