Enhancing the European Focus of European Elections

This idea was published on the Conference on the Future of Europe platform. We welcome your feedback there.

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Abstract:
The
Elections for European Parliament lack focus on Europe. They are run nationally, by national politicians on national campaign platforms focusing on national issues.

With our proposal, this could be changed easily. Without being a counterproposal, this proposal contains an alternative approach to the widely known and advertised introduction of transnational electoral list. While the initial scope of Transnational Electoral List proposal only influencesup to 10% of seats of the European parliament, this proposal is expected to impact the campaign for every single EP seat and therefore at least have a comparable enhancing effect on the elections as well as the European body politics. At the same time, it can be expected to face a significantly lower extent of formal and legal introductory hurdles.

The expected positive impact of Transnational Electoral Lists on European elections rests on two columns:

  • Column 1 being the actual transnational list of European candidates eligible from citizens in every member state.
  • Column 2 is much less advertised. It is the obvious fact that a European transnational list will need to have a common campaign platform, focusing primarily on issues of European relevance considered to be acceptable as well as necessary by all candidates on the list whichever member state they hail from.

The enhancing effect on elections to European Parliament is primarily the result of column 2: A common European political Platformassociated with all candidates on the list, making it possible to put forward a Lead Candidate (Spitzenkandidat) without forcing this person to put his/her name on 27 different partially conflicting national programs. Column 1, even though desirable, brings with it a multiplicity of obstacles: Issues with composition of parliament, sequence of national candidates on list, regional representation, legal changes up to required constitutional changes in some member countries. It is column 1 that is in the way of getting Transnational Electoral Lists approved.

This perspective is backed up by a reflection on the system for federal elections in Germany. German political parties do not have national election lists. Each state has its own list of candidates. But they all campaign on a common national platform and jointly present a Lead Candidate for chancellor.

Building preeminently on the positive effects Column 2 this proposal avoids almost all the obstacles to introduction associated with Column 1. Instead, this proposal brings European focus to campaigns for European Parliament, it fosters a European public sphere, it supports the Lead Candidate Concept, it strengthens Parliament and by reducing the frequently confusing complexity of political maneuvering in Parliament it brings European Political Parties, European Parliament and its political groups closer to the European citizen.

Lastly this proposal suggests leverage for its implementation: Making the establishment of a Political Group in the European Parliament contingent on having run a campaign on a common platform. This condition can be implemented by simple change of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (change of Rule 33).

This proposal was created by Klaus Feldmann (Munich) with support by Tina Löhr and Moritz Wille as a result of workshops, brainstorming and debate with Europeans from different backgrounds and countries on the platform MeetEU.