A serious lack of gravitas

A serious lack of gravitas

In addition to the conclusions that we must draw, and the intense politicking that has followed last Sunday’s election, we must also look at the 21 members of the European Parliament who were elected. This is not the best possible group from the total number of candidates presented by the parties. Most are not even the most capable ones on their own party’s ballot. In addition, those who were re-elected had been judged to be less active on the European scene than colleagues who did not make it this time. Now, new MEPs and the re-elected ones are called on to defend Greece’s interests in Europe and to contribute towards the strategy and construction of the Union in an ever more complicated world. 

This eclectic group of MEPs represents – first and foremost – the anxiety of the political parties for a good electoral outcome. This priority was clear in the cases of New Democracy and PASOK, who yoked together candidates who were completely different from each other. It is not clear whether these parties benefited from this. In other words, did the candidacy of some TV celebrity bring votes or did it turn away a greater number of people who demanded greater seriousness from that party? Many household names were elected, so the party strategists will feel pleased by their choices. If they cared about the usefulness of MEPs on the European stage, they wouldn’t have promoted the candidates that they did. Consequently, it is certain that the new MEPs will maintain the tradition of choosing – above all – to serve their party’s domestic political interests. In this way, Greece’s participation in the construction of Europe is left to government officials, diplomats and bureaucrats. There is nothing wrong in this, but in this way we abdicate the chance to present serious Greek proposals and concerns, to show dynamic Greek participation, in Europe’s most important forum. It is as if we have many other opportunities to express Greece’s opinion on the changing world.

This is not the fault of those who were elected, nor of the more capable candidates who failed to get into the EP, nor, indeed, of the voters. (Some excellent people were elected, and they will have a disproportionately great weight to carry in the next few years.) It is the fault of a political culture which sacrifices gravitas even in Europe, for the altar of domestic rivalries. Now, if this team of MEPs is to be useful, it will have to overcome the weaknesses of the system which gave birth to it.

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