13 march 2013, not the papal elections

I was chairing a meeting the other day when a well-spoken elder reeled off what he thought were the 3 occasions he could vote - "and the european elections" I added. The fact that the european parliament is just an afterthought (if that) for most europeans (and especially british) belies its importance, as over 75% of domestic laws now originate at eu level, which has consistently grown with each treaty. Despite its oddities (see 12 february 2011) the parliament is now co-legislator of almost all european activity, and although it won't block the budget, it has on occasion put its foot down, like making the whole commission resign in 1999. I have written before (see the quiet road to 2009) how while most elections tell a story, the "european" elections tell 27, as they are correctly, if unfortunately, characterised as second-rate national elections, each with their own electoral systems, voting patterns and national issues. For all that the turnout is dismal though, it's still higher than US congressional elections. Now comes another initiative to boost turnout and mobilise the european demos, as the commission, yet again, tries to make the next election, in may 2014, a more singular event. The main proposals are for each party to use its european name (for example the british labour party is the party of european socialists and the liberal democrats are the alliance of liberals and democrats) and for each party to nominate a commission president. The voting would be all on the same day and feature tv debates. There is little new here, and this earnest attempt to start to bridge the eu's "democratic deficit" will fail, because for all that the member states bemoan it, too many still claim the unique right to a national demos and don't want to see further moves towards encouraging a european one. Oh, and my cousin has composed some music