EP elections: parties get your acts together!

June 8, 2009

parliament~_mothershi_101bI’m not an expert on the minutiae of European politics – for more in-depth analysis of the elections I’d recommend proper Euroblogs like Julien Frisch, The European Citizen, Nosemonkey and Grahnlaw – but there’s one “layman’s” observation I would make.

Low turnouts and the success of a number of unsavoury fringe parties (as well as the failure of the centre-left to make up ground on the centre-right despite the financial crisis “gift”) is likely going to be blamed in some smug quarters on a cynical media and stupid and/or gullible voters. Or if not that, on the fact that voters have become too individualistic to care about serious politics and wider community matters.

But what about the failure of many mainstream parties – especially those on the centre-left – to offer voters a real sense that they offer a helping hand in trying times? I think that’s far more critical. Sure, the media may be a tad cynical, but have entire electorates suddenly gone dim-witted? Hardly. Have we all turned into materialistic egomaniacs? Maybe, but I doubt charity donations would be at an all time high if that were so. Perhaps it’s fair to say that it’s not an easy time to be a political party. People don’t vote along party lines like they used to (largely because social class does not matter much anymore in political terms) while there aren’t that many issues on which parties can really stand out seeing as they all pretty much straddle the middle ground.

Nonetheless, it’s certainly the case that plenty of Europeans feel utterly estranged from political parties . What should they do about it? For a start, try to be more representative and not appear so detached; be less dismissive and most of all to be more communicative. It means surveying constituents and acting on results. And as an advocate for all things online, I’d say more than anything it means members of parties communicating online directly with their constituents and making it an absolute priority to engage in daily dialogue even if it takes up a sizable chunk of working hours.

And if that fails? More proportional representation and direct democracy perhaps, but that opens up a whole new kettle of fish.

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2 Responses to “EP elections: parties get your acts together!”

  1. Ralf Grahn Says:

    You are right, Steffen.

    Given the number of candidates it was not a lot, but some candidates blogged during the European election campaign. A step forward, I would say, but hardly ever a post which discussed issues, weighed problems or engaged in discussion. Most posts looked like meeting announcements or newspaper advertisements (although with more space).

    Lost opportunities.

    (I admit that I didn’t follow the various social media, because I find it hard to imagine that serious discussion can take place through mini-messages.)

  2. Simon Says:

    The idea of having a market orientated political campaign isn’t a new one; For instance, it’s the reason ‘New Labour’ came about with such success in the mid-nineties. A problem, however, is that the politics are quite shallow as they are based on fulfilling short-term requirements from the electorate – which is why new Labour has been imploding the last few years.

    I’ve recently been working with an MEP candidate advising him on his use of social media, and it’s been interesting to say the least. Firstly, he, like most, has minimal understanding of how to use the tools available, but heard Obama did great so wants them all!

    As the previous comment suggested, his website and blog looked like a notice board. But then, at least he was trying. It will develop and get better, as will the marketing aspect of politics – the issue is getting the potential voters interested. Politics is quite boring for many.

    It’s something I’d like to chat about at the event below if possible, so perhaps see you there.


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