European democracy is on the edge of the abyss
It’s been moving this way for some time, but now Europe’s leaders are going to have to answer a simple question on democracy: For, or against?
But really, the most important issue is not the blatant opposition of many of the EU’s leading lights and their supporters to respecting the need for elections or the results when they don’t like them, it’s the increasingly obvious incompatibility between democracy itself and the neo-imperial model of European integration which the continent is rapidly adopting.
It only takes a little consideration of how much of the current European edifice could exist if it had been constructed on the consent of the governed. The euro? Not on your life. German voters consistently told pollsters they didn’t want it. So, that’s the euro gone.
The legal-political basis on which the entire project is currently constructed, the Lisbon Treaty? No, France, the Netherlands, and Ireland rejected it in referendums and several others would probably have done the same had they been given the chance: Britain certainly. So that’s the Lisbon Treaty gone too. I could go on.
The situation is more serious than it looks. For example, billed as "a first step towards more European coherence" it has just been announced that Germany and France are looking to “harmonise” their corporate tax rates next year. The European Commission is pushing to extend that to every single member state. Put that notion with what we’ve already got in the European project and what Brussels plans us to have and you really start wondering what will soon be the point of elections at all.
What, after all, will people actually be able to vote on? Fiscal policy? No, that will be a supranational decision in which your country’s electorate will not have the decisive say. Tax policy. No (see above) for the same reason. Monetary policy? It’s true that most countries operate independent central banks but if you’re outside the euro your elected government can at least appoint the governor and set the policy parameters. Not so if you’re in the euro, whose eventual membership for most countries is compulsory.
Foreign policy? No, again the ambition is for supranational consensus to rule the day. Border and immigration policy? No, especially not if you’re in the Schengen zone where you don’t even have a clue who is coming through your borders.
So, again, what are you going to vote on? Education? Cultural matters? Well, only as long as you don’t do something which contravenes laws for which ultimate authority resides in the European courts.
We’re not there yet. But that’s the way the leading forces in European politics want to take us.
And, in the absence of a European demos – a shared sense of destiny buttressed by common media, a common language to read and watch the media in, pan-European political parties, identical national interests etc – what that will spell is nothing less than the end of the democratic era in modern Europe.
This, by the way, is not a matter of opinion. You either understand what democracy is and what it entails or you do not.
But there is one very important issue that most certainly is a matter of opinion: Are you for democracy or against it? Depressingly, shockingly, almost unbelievably, that is the question that modern Europe now has to answer.
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