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May 312009

One week before election day it may well be that previous estimates of participation rates in Sweden will turn out to have been way too low. It is true that TV-debates between party leaders mainly focus on domestic policy issues and that many people still have very vague ideas about the competences of the EP. Nevertheless, the feeling that the EP and the election are important seems to be growing. Former Minister of Justice, Thomas Bodström, writes on his blog (our translation): “In the previous election I always got the question: why should we vote in the EP-election? This time people ask: for whom should we vote in the election”. Our guess at the present moment is that we will be in for a surprise with a comparatively strong showing at the polls.

One very important factor in this context is a very strong element of personal campaigning of candidates - Continue reading »

May 132009

In an interview with the Swedish Daily Dagens Industri, the Swedish Prime Minister Mr. Reinfeldt says (my translation) that “the voters are rational, they realize that the EU election is not (as) decisive for their everyday life and for the future.” He continues to say that there is a “tremendous difference” between national parliamentary elections and elections to the EP since the EP “has no influence on formation of government or influence” [?]

This is a remarkable statement from the leader of the country that is next in turn for the Presidency. The Czech Presidency was an unmitigated disaster.  The statement by the Swedish Prime Minister makes us wonder if the Swedish one will be any better.  And does he really believe that the EP “is not (as) decisive for [the voters' ] everyday life and for the future”? At best this is irresponsible, at worst it reflects a tremendous lack of understanding of how the EU works.

There are well founded fears that the participation rate will be very low even if political parties Continue reading »

May 052009

Untergang des Abenlandes

The above is an EP election poster in Vienna for the FPÖ, the right wing party once revived by Jörg Haider, now in the hands of extremist populists, worse than Haider and not so sophisticated.  “Our course is clear: The West should stay in Christian hands” is an approximate translation. In addition the general theme of the campaign: “The Day of Reckoning.”

The poster is of course directed against Turkish membership, perhaps also against immigration from Muslim countries,  but I wonder whether it would be possible to formulate it this way in any other member country?

On a more scurrilous note: The top candidate of the conservative party, ÖVP, is former Minister of the Interior Ernst Strasser. While still Minister, Mr. Strasser once organized a Press Conference where he announced that he had just watched a documentary from Iceland called Citizen Cam. This film showed how crime and street violence had been eradicated in Reykjavik through the  setting up of 400 video cameras in the streets of the city, all sending live on Icelandic TV!  This had quickly become the most popular TV-channel in Iceland.  Because of its apparent success, Mr. Strasser proposed that the same kind of system should be introduced in Vienna.

What Mr. Strasser hadn’t understood was that the film (shown in the French/German Arte channel) was a so called “mockumentary”, that is to say entirely fictitious but pretending to be a documentary. It had been made as a contribution to the discussion of video surveillance and personal integrity.

In order to give this post a Nordic touch, please let me inform you that “Austrian Minister of the Interior” is called ”innanríkisrádherra Austurrikis” in Icelandic.