Thursday, May 22, 2014

The 2014 E.U. Parliament Election: A Gray Cloud with a Silver Lining

Whereas the European Parliament election in 2009 suffered from state-level issues and low voter-turnout, the legislative election in 2014 promises to be a super-charged one in the “super-nation.”[1] Most notably, the electoral contests are “shaping up as no less than a referendum on the merits of continuing on with the European Union itself.”[2] With popular distrust of the E.U. at an all-time high, this bit of news seems rather bad for pro-E.U. Europeans. Any pessimism in anticipation of the election that exists is mitigated by “the bigger picture.”

The European Parliament. (

Specifically, I want to point to the shift from the European electorate essentially using the federal legislative elections as a means of contesting on state-level issues or otherwise simply abstaining from voting at all, whether out of protest or sheer indifference. Debating the E.U. itself implies a shift to the federal level, which is proper for a federal election. 

Lest it be feared that the anti-federalists, or euro-skeptics, win big, the practical impact would likely be less than that which federalists fear, for the Parliament’s powers are dwarfed by those of the European Council and the Council of Ministers. It is the anti-federalist sentiment in those bodies that can inflict serious damage, or at least hamper, the E.U. as a viable federal union. The shift to using the Parliament election to debate the E.U. itself may be an early sign not of dissolution, but, rather, of tacit acceptence of there being a federal level.

[1] Peter Goodman, “Skepticism and Contempt Color Upcoming European Parliament Elections,” The Huffington Post, January 21, 2014.
[2] Ibid.