OPINION

Specter of apathy

The televised contest between Greece’s main party leaders tonight is highly unlikely to increase public interest in the elections for the European Parliament. The meaning of such televised debates is lost before they even begin as spinmeisters from all sides scuffle over the exact procedures under which their leaders will trade their monologues. Is there anything worth retaining from the debate during the national elections? The words of the leaders, or their style? The essence under the mantle of rhetoric, their image, their posture or their pose? It is likely that these secondary aspects of politics never really sank into the collective memory, as public attention was focused on the brawl between journalists about who would get to coordinate the debate. For journalists seem to be the real stars these days, and not politicians. If the national elections debate degenerated into a public relations hoopla – when what was at stake was the very government of the country – then there is little hope for today’s debate on what is seen as an out-of-touch Europe and toothless Europarliament. But instead of taking for granted that the European polls rouse little enthusiasm among the public, party officials would do better to try and fathom the causes of apathy and examine their own responsibility and possible remedial action. These questions should be the concern of parties in all of the 25 EU member states, as well as of the Commission, the European Parliament and European citizens themselves – as they all seem to be turning their back on politics and, by extension, on a unified Europe. In all member states, the Union is seen as a bureaucratic economic apparatus devoid of ideological or political content. Every wave of enlargement loosens rather than strengthens the ties between its components. A specter is haunting Europe, one deeply undesired, Europe’s very unification.