Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
MEPs perform a number of functions.  

Firstly they have their legislative function, so it is reasonable to expect candidates to have a sound grasp of the powers and procedures of the parliament.

Secondly, they are there to represent their communities, so it is reasonable to ask what they have done in this regard in the past - what jobs have they held, any previous electoral offices, what particular (professional or otherwise) competencies they bring to the task.

Finally, they are there as members of political parties or groups, and it is reasonable to expect them to have a detailed grasp of the policies of their party/group, and for them to be able to articulate, argue, justify, evidence same.  So we need to ask them what policy proposals they would support on - e.g.

  1. The Financial crisis
  2. Energy policy
  3. Global warming
  4. Consumer protections
  5. Globalisation, trade, development aid
  6. Agricultural, environmental, and health and safety policies
  7. Regional, cohesion and solidarity policies with respect to disadvantaged regions in the EU.

If I candidate can't talk plausibly on the above - regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them - then they don't really tick the boxes of what is required of an MEP.

So I wouldn't dumb down the questionnaire to lowest common denominator status.  In fact I won't use a questionnaire at all, as that will either be ignored, or consigned to a flunky to do a cut and paste job.

We should all be asking for live interviews with the candidates and using a common question sheet as a guide so we can cross-reference the sort of answers we are getting.

For example Libertas are pursuing wildly different "policies" in different countries.  One of the vital services to democracy we could be performing is to call them and others on the inconsistencies they are offering to the electorate.

Whatever about politicians breaking their promises, how do you hold people to account afterwards if they have promised wildly conflicting things?

We have only ourselves to blame if we facilitated their election in the first place - by allowing market research led spin to take the place of serious policies and dialogue.

If ET has a role in all of this, it is to demand a higher standard of rigour and consistency of our parties and candidates.

But this needs to be a collective effort - and needs lots of people pestering for interviews in each country.  We must avoid getting caught up in the apathy which seems to surround the whole process.

Without challenge and debate, their can be no demos, and without a demos there is no real democracy.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 09:20:31 AM EST

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