On the 13th of June 2004, except in a few countries (Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Czech Republic and United Kingdom where it occurred one or two days before), more than 338 millions European citizens went to the polls to choose their representatives at the European Parliament, namely the Members of the European Parliament (MEP's). This event, which may look quite normal in a democratic system, is indeed a major event in the European construction. The elections had never taken place to such a scale, with 25 members involved. It was the first occasion for the newly members of Eastern Europe and Mediterranean Sea to take part in one of the greatest democratic events and to have, at least, their say in the European process. Finally, these elections turned out to be disappointing to a certain extent, either concerning the way they took place or concerning the consequences. Let's see why.
[...] The local and national stakes and debates prevailing over the European ones is another proof of it. Indeed, even though Malta inhabitants voted massively on the 13th of January ( 82.37 the campaign was mainly dominated by local issues such as the flare-up of the unemployment rate or diminution of the purchasing power. It seems that the Maltians went to the polls to have their say concerning these issues, and not concerning the future of the EU. The Malta case kind of epitomizes the general trend in the EU. [...]
[...] The results Member States 1979 1984 1987 1989 1994 1995 1996 1999 2004 GERMANY 65.7 56.8 62.3 60 45.2 43 FRANCE 60.7 56.7 48.7 52.7 46.8 42.76 BELGIUM 91.4 92.2 90.7 90.7 91 90.81 ITALY 84.9 83.4 81.5 74.8 70.8 73.1 LUXEMBURG 88.9 88.8 87.4 88.5 87.3 89 NETHERLANDS 57.8 50.6 47.2 35.6 30 39.3 UK 32.2 32.6 36.2 36.4 24 38.83 IRELAND 63.6 47.6 68.3 44 50.2 58.8 DENMARK 47.8 52.4 46.2 52.9 50.5 47.9 GREECE 77.2 79.9 71.2 75.3 63.22 SPAIN 68.9 54.6 59.1 63 45.1 Portugal 72.4 51.2 35.5 40 38.6 SWEDEN 41.6 38.8 37.8 AUSTRIA 67.7 49.4 42.43 FINLAND 60.3 31.4 39.4 CZECH 28.32 EE 26.83 CYPRUS 71.19 LATVIA 41.34 LITUANIA 48.38 HUNGARY 38.5 MALTA 82.37 POLAND 20.87 SI 28.3 SLOVAKIA 16.96 Average EU 63 61 / 58.5 56.8 / / 49.8 45.7 Three major trends could be observed during this vote. [...]
[...] Consequently, the lists were national and stuck to the traditional political borders of right, left, extreme One of the main arguments of the opposition parties was: no to the bad policy of the government”, whereas the government party kept repeating: ‘this is not national but European poll”. Beyond this, we could say that the socialist parties, as well as the Green ones, campaigned for a strong and integrated Europe which would implement a developed social policy, which would take care of the rights of European workers, settling economic and social harmonization. [...]
[...] First, the scale of the election had never been so wide countries were to vote at the same time or almost, which means that 338 millions people or better, citizens would express themselves and take part into the democratic process of election of the European Parliament which is the only institution of the European Union to be chosen on a universal suffrage basis. As a result, this way of appointment gives more legitimacy to the EP and more importance to the election: it's one of the easiest manners for the inhabitants of the member countries to voice their opinion about where the European Union is heading. [...]
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