There are European elections in half a year and we should be debating about this election - to understand them better and to vote with full knowledge of the facts. In recent talks with students in the country on this topic, I found that there is no practical knowledge about the process of these important elections. Someone even put forward the idea that it is in fact a tacit understanding to not decrypt the vote and who the candidates are. However, I do not think that this assessment is correct.
However, I try to do my duty to inform Romanian citizens about what really happens. On May 25, 2014 the elections will be held in Romania, in order to choose the 32 Romanian representatives for the European Parliament. But what happens until then?
Legally, at least one month before the date of the elections, so latest on 25 April 2014, Romanian political parties have to submit their official candidate list to the Central Electoral Office. This list contains 32 names, in a clear order. On May 25, Romanian citizens go to vote and elect their preferred list. There is no uninominal vote in the European elections: basically it's a choice between lists proposed by the participating political parties from Romania. That means, for example, that if the result of the elections for PSD shows that they get 35% of the vote, they will have 35% of the 32 seats, so 11 MEPs. Who are these MEPs? They are the top 11 from the list, submitted by PSD one month before the elections.
Even if you particularly like a candidate and want to vote, say for the one on the 20th place, you cannot help him much. There is of course the theoretical possibility (but highly unlikely) that the PSD wins 60% of the vote and thus 20 MEP seats are assigned PSD, hence the number 20 will be one of them.
We basically have a situation where positioning matters a lot in the official list of candidates. Who decides this order on the list? It's the national leadership of the parties in collaboration with local leaders.
I have said in public many times that next year's European elections are crucial for the future of the European Union. The crises we experience make us more pragmatic and think about exactly what solutions we have. Globally, we have only one chance, we need a strong European Union to face globalization. We need a Europe built by citizens, and involvement in European elections is crucial.
The EP elections are actually "the Olympic Games" for the EU. We cannot miss this moment! Not surprisingly, we can say that to have a successful competition, the elections need to be "followed" by the general public (citizens who vote), and the "athletes” need to be able to play the European games (candidates in an eligible position on electoral lists), and in the backlground we can see the "coaches with ambition" (leaders of political parties).
If we have profiles that inspire communication in the top 10 places (places we can consider as eligible), people who truly master European issues, while at the same time they are perfectly aware of the interests of Romania, we have a chance of electoral debates full of meaning. However, if we put people forward who do not understand the community mechanism, we will witness a boring debate, full of slogans, and often anchored in hidden nationalism – this would be a huge loss for citizens, political parties and of course the European Parliament.
What do you suggest? I think it's time now to see what proposals come from the political parties to prepare Romania for 2019, the year when Romania will take over the EU presidency. Of course there's no time for primary elections nationally, but we should have transparent procedures for proposing eligible candidates. Involve citizens in this procedue, is can still be done! Now is the time to communicate about the European elections, procedures, about possible candidates.
Romanians have the right to know who will have authority to represent them for the next 5 years!
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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