As parties are worming up for their election campaigns and newspapers are preparing their witty artwork just in case, several early predictions surfaced in the past week. Here are three of them, which come from quite different sources and discuss the results of the Bulgarian EP elections:
Here is a comparison of the predictions by national and EP parties:
|Nat. party||EP party||Predict09.eu||MBMD||Me|
Predict09.eu actually wrote that SDS will get one MEP and DSB will get none, but since they have formed a coalition for the elections, I have combined their results. It should also be noted, that due to recent changes in the bulgarian election law, the barrier for coalitions has been raised to 8% which means that SDS and DPS may not be able get any MEPs at all. Those changes however have been vetoed by the President, so we are yet to see how that political fiasco will unfold.
How are those predictions disturbing at all? During the launch event of the Th!nk about it blogging competition, a concern was expressed that there will be 27 election campaigns instead of one pan-European. Although important, that issue fades against the even greater problem that the EP elections are not about EU issues and voter involvement, but rather national issues and local politics. In the three predictions above I don’t see that much the difference itself, but rather the fact that they are based on the popularity of the national parties and their leaders.
In Bulgaria we don’t know who our MEPs are. We still don’t know most of the candidates for the elections in June. There is absolutely no discussion in the public media and even, dare I say - in the Blogosphere, on EU issues such as energy independence, consumer rights, Lisbon treaty, EU executive power, national involvement and so on. The media predictably focuses on the political battle between the prime minister Sergey Stanishev (BSP) and the mayor of Sofia Boyko Borisov (GERB). What I find disturbing is that on 7th of June we will vote not based on the candidates’ positions on various issues, but solely on our sympathies for Borisov or Stanishev.
My concerns may seem like an overreaction - after all, people have voted like that for many decades and this trend is far from being limited only to Bulgaria when it comes to national elections. Why should those for the European Parliament be any different then!? Well, because they are - we have only 17 MEPs, but their individual voices have more weight than our national members of parliament. They don’t operate within party policies once they get elected and have more or less independent communication with the bulgarian public. Deciding on who will those people be is quite different from voting for our local parliament. Or at least - it should be.
That’s why I hope that such predictions will become irrelevant if not for these, then hopefully for the next EP elections. Not that they may not turn out to be right in terms of actual EP seats, but what should matter would be the balance of influence in specific issues and the performance of individual MEPs. For that purpose the votes should learn to look beyond local political intrigues and think like Europeans - something we can seldom see anywhere in Europe.