Towards a real European democracy, trans-European electoral procedures

Christel Hahn - 17/07/2014

The workshop “Towards a real European democracy, trans-European electoral procedures” of the Berlin meeting started the debate and a continuation of the debate has been agreed upon. This paper wants to give a basis for this continuation on the basis of the input of the participants in Berlin:

The problem of European democracy has several aspects:
  • We have made so many advances in thinking, experiences and technology, so a more real, more agile and more liquid democracy is what is experimented with by many people.
  • The European construction has been top-down and dominated by the European national states. So European democracy was not an essential element of the European construction.
  • Through the introduction of the Euro the Euro-zone states adopted a high level of integration. As can be seen in the Euro-crisis and its effects on the European citizens, such a high level of integration requires the input and participation of its citizens and especially of engaged activists and experts from the civil society.
  • Currently through the free-trade treaties, such as TTIP, CETA, TISA, TTP the European states with their advanced democracy are threatened to be subject to a totally undemocratic system of global governance dominated by the large multinational companies.
Taking into account these conditions, the main focus lies on the next step: the necessity of a single electoral law and procedures for the European elections. There is a European electoral law, but it provides only a framework, and the regulation of the elections through national laws and procedures leads to a totally undemocratic situation. Especially the various national electoral procedures make it very difficult for civil society movements to enter into the elections, so for this project, not only a single European electoral law, but also clear, simple and democratic European electoral procedures should be a focus.

A proposal, that came from various participants of the meeting are to have have the seats (or one chamber) elected through European lists and the other halve (or the second chamber) elected on national levels. So we need simple procedures to make a concrete proposal for this model.

The main deficiency of the current situation is, that there are only national and no European lists, which combined with the different thresholds in most countries lead to the situation, where about 25% of the European electors are not properly represented in the European parliament. The problem of the possibility to vote twice, that came up during the last elections, shows that we need regulations for the registration of European voters. We have European citizens, but these citizens should be also seen as European voters. So a challenge is to implement this without over-regulation and total control, which is something the Europeans rightfully oppose.

Various contributors say, that the future of democracy requires an active participation of the citizens in the legislation process and especially the making of the texts of the laws (and the regulations!) by and through the citizens and experts from the civil society. There have also been by various people suggestions to have a citizens convent for a European constitution. This is a very futuristic idea, so a concrete next step could be to have on Euro-zone level procedures for the citizens to work together on a common framework for elections of a Euro-zone parliament.

Christel Hahn