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A different political will (John Palmer)

(B2 archives) 3 questions to John Palmer. Researcher at the European Policy Center

What lessons do you draw from the results?

First, the abstention rate is bad. But this is not a real surprise. No politician has really given content to this campaign. The debate did not focus on a certain vision of Europe or another but was confined to domestic issues. Faced with this lack of choice, the voter simply chose to stay at home and wait for real local elections to decide. Secondly, if we examine all the votes, it is above all unfavorable to the governments in place which have supported American policy in Iraq (Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, etc.). A large part of the population undoubtedly wanted to signify a different political will.

Will this (non)vote have consequences for the Constitution and at European level?

I don't think it can have any. The Constitution should be adopted by the Heads of State and Government before this weekend. Otherwise there will be, then, a real demoralization. But it is at the time of ratifications that the difficulties will arise. I am thinking particularly of the United Kingdom. And in Parliament, there is not much change. The European People's Party (Editor's note: bringing together the Conservatives and Christian Democrats) will remain the leading party, even if it will lose a few members in the coming weeks (UDF of Bayrou, Prodi's bet, etc.).

How do you change this disinterested mindset?

MEPs have five years to prove, it's a real challenge, that they are not simply part of a parliamentary group but must transform it into a real transnational party. So everyone can decide to vote for or against the socialists, the liberals, the ecologists, for a pro-American or anti-American, federalist or sovereignist policy...

Comments collected by Nicolas Gros-Verheyde –

(Article published in France-Soir, June 2004)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).