Dutch and Austrians vote for more transparency in EU, British send EU opponents to Strasbourg
Confidence in the European Union is waning in the old member states and does not even seem to be emerging in many of the accession countries. Lists critical of EU made substantial gains in European Parliament elections. Austria and the Netherlands, in turn, are sending whistleblowers on EU abuses to Strasbourg.
In almost all EU countries, the respective national governments were punished. This is a significant result of the EU elections that should give pause for thought, especially since it was obviously not possible to convey to the voters that it is about the composition of the European Parliament and not about national ies.
The second major trend that emerged, however, seems to be even more serious. The low voter turnout of less than 45 percent across the EU suggests that resignation, disinterest or deep mistrust in the European Union project is the dominant attitude of the majority of EU citizens. The evident successes for EU opponents and EU critics also hold some explosive potential for future votes in the EU Parliament. Although the European People’s Party (EPP) will continue to be the strongest group with 247 to 277 seats, it remains to be seen how the new lists will position themselves.
For vertebrae could in the future also still two "old familiar" faces that have not been particularly popular in the EU ranks, but have been sent back to parliament by the burghers of their countries by return of post. We are talking about Paul van Buitenen, who won 7 percent in the Netherlands and thus two of the 27 Dutch EU seats, and the Austrian Hans Peter Martin, who also secured two mandates in Strasbourg. Both have taken up the fight against corruption and mismanagement in the EU institutions.
Austria election ended with a bang on Sunday. A whopping 14 percent had not been expected of Hans Peter Martin, who ran for the first time with his own list but without his own party organization. In the last polls before the election, he was predicted to win only 7 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, he continued with the theme "Fight against EU expense knights" He won enough votes for two EU mandates and even overtook the Austrian Greens, who had 12.9 percent of the vote. Main motive of his electors: fight against privileges.
It is interesting to note that Hans Peter Martin does not necessarily present what is understood by a sympathetic speaker, but often comes across as a super-teacher, equipped with a rasping voice (which would drive any media trainer to despair). Hans Peter Martin’s political career is also not typical and anything but straightforward. The 47-year-old ex-journalist (u.a. at Der Spiegel) and bestselling author ("The globalization trap") is considered a lone campaigner. The Austrian Social Democrats, for whom Martin was the top candidate in the 1999 EU elections and then refused to settle for just any place, criticize him for his lack of team spirit. In the end, after years of quarreling, Martin was even expelled from the European Socialist Group.
He remained a wild member of parliament and went public with his knowledge of the practices in the EU Parliament with regard to expense claims. Martin’s methods as an exposer of alleged abuses in the European Parliament are far from uncontroversial. He was often accused of spying on others. In addition, he is accused of having benefited unjustifiably from the expenses system on several occasions.
However, he has succeeded in bringing the ie to the attention of a broad public. But you don’t make friends in the EU by pointing out grievances. Paul van Buitenen from the Netherlands can also tell you a thing or two about this. He once worked in the financial control of the EU Commission and leaked internal information from the Brussels office to the budget control committee of the EU Parliament. The later expert report on nepotism and mismanagement led to the resignation of then Commission President Jacques Santer and his 19 Commissioners in the spring of 1999. In EU circles, Buitenen was henceforth associated with the reputation of a "nest-robber "Nestbeschmutzers" to. The old Commission even punished him by deducting his salary and relegating him to another post. Buitenen loved to take leave in 2002 and worked on the foundation of his list "Europe Transparent", with which he has now been able to achieve considerable success.
While in the Netherlands and Austria it was individuals who were able to unite the EU-critical electoral potential, in countries such as Great Britain, Sweden and also in new EU members such as the Czech Republic, EU-critical parties found unimaginable support. But also in the accession countries, large parts of the population seem to react with skepticism to the European Union project. The electoral turnout was in some cases much lower than in the old-established member states. The absolute negative record was set in Slovakia, with only 16.5 percent voter turnout. In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, the conservative Democratic Burger Party (ODS), whose honorary chairman is Vaclav Klaus, who is critical of the EU, won with 30 percent of the votes cast.
However the results of this EU election will affect such important projects as EU interception and enlargement, one thing seems to have become clear. Something like European public opinion is more distant than ever. Neither at the national level, nor the EU institutions themselves, have succeeded in bringing the United Europe project closer to the citizens, creating transparency and trust.