EU Democracy: Fallen and It Can’t Get Up.

by Andrew Stuttaford

Viviane Reding, one of a kindly God’s gifts to UKIP has, even by the standards of the EU Commission, represented a remarkable combination of arrogance, mediocrity, authoritarianism and eurodelirium.

Here she is, tweeting in the immediate aftermath of the elections to the EU parliament in May:

 #Spitzenkandidaten are a game changer: downward voter turnout trend in #ep2014 reversed!

The Spitzenkandidaten were the apparatchiks chosen by the main political ‘families’ in the parliament as their candidates to head up the EU bureaucracy (an idea that represented something of a constitutional coup by the parliament: this was not something that was supposed to be decided by these elections). The great “reversal,” that stupendous game-changer, was a rise in the turnout from 43 percent in 2009 to 43.1 percent in the May vote, an increase of 0.1 percent after 35 years of continuous decline from the 61.99 percent seen in 1979.

At about the same time as Ms Reding was tweeting so happily, Euraactiv was reporting the comments of another of the Spitzenkanditaten, liberal leader Guy Verhofstad:

We have finally broken the downward trend of falling participation in European elections. The eighth legislature of the European Parliament will be more representative than the previous one as average turnout across Europe is an improvement on 2009 . . .

Euractiv continued:

From the left and right of the political spectrum, politicians hailed the candidates for European Commission president, for pushing the numbers up.

But something has come up, or rather gone down.

Euractiv this week:

The May 2014 EU election saw the lowest voter turnout on record, according to updated figures discreetly released by the European Parliament during the summer holiday period for EU institutions. The updated numbers, published on the Parliament website, show that turnout struggled to reach 42.54% in 2014, well below the 43.1% initially announced.

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.