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Following the realistic candidates train of thought:

Let's consider the dynamics of a continent-wide direct election of a single Officer.

How will people on the ground actually vote? Based on nationality? Based on national party endorsements? Based on whether the candidates speak one's language? How many people will actually vote?

Who can capture the German vote? Is it necessary to be able to be interviewed on German TV without an interpreter? Would that be enough to overcome party identification? That is, could a German-speaking Dutch Labour candidate carry a significant fraction of the vote among CDU sympathisers? Conversely, can we expect a Spanish conservative candidate to carry a significant fraction of the vote on the basis of a CDU endorsement even if they can't speak German?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 02:15:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sub-question: what tolerance do different audiences have for sub-titling or voice-overs?

In Sweden, I think most candidates would do fine as long as they speak in their native tongue and depend on tv's sub-titles and not the drone-like voice-overs they use in the EP. Doing a few token phrases would count as a plus.

Hm, since there is a tendency to sound ridiculous and/or a bit stupid in any language that you don't master really well (for example Svanberg's "little people" after the Gulf oil disaster), if language is crucial I think lesser language skills can be discounted. Speaking really well a few widely understood languages on the other hand should be a plus.

Where is that map of understanding secondary languages in the EU again?

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 02:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, just this year the Eurobarometer Europeans and their languages has been updated.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 02:46:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing that the number of people who self-report being able to follow TV or Radio programmes in a foreign language is substantially lower than the number who claim to be able to hold a conversation.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 02:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
54 vs 44 yes. Not that surprising considering that in a conversation people adapt their langugae to those they talk to, and a conversation is less stringently defined then being able to follow news.

Just over two fifths (44%) of Europeans say that they are able to understand at least one foreign language well enough to be able to follow the news on radio or television. English is the most widely understood, with a quarter (25%) of Europeans able to follow radio or television news in the language. French and German are mentioned by 7% of respondents each, while Spanish (5%), Russian (3%) and Italian (2%).

This is probably the relevant level to understand political speech.

In addition we have the native speakers:

In accordance with the EU population, the most widely spoken mother tongue is German (16%), followed by Italian and English (13% each), French (12%), then Spanish and Polish (8% each).

Adding up to:
English 38%
German 23%
French 19%
Italian 15%

As that is the proportion reached with each language (they overlap of course). However, the 25% that has english as a second language might not mind so much hearing mangled second-language english. After all, it is how our leaders speak.

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by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:07:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And how. It's embarrassing hearing our Swedish prime ministers trying to outdo each other with the Swedish Chef by way of Minnesota accents.

(Of course the next generation won't speak Swedish - it will be English with Swedish words. Already happening in online forae.
Now you kids get the heck off my lawn.)


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Wed Oct 31st, 2012 at 11:42:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who selects the candidates? What would stop you from having a Spanish conservative candidate, a German one, a Bavarian one and so on. Then you have to decide how to select the winnder.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:01:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the optimal solution would be a single-transferable voter system with an open field. But again, what would be the dynamics in that case? What do you do when you have dozens of candidates campaigning in two dozen countries?

To judge by the experience of the Gray Davis recall election in California, you'd basically have a celebrity popularity contest, and Schwarzenegger (as suggested elsewhere in this thread) would win.

Now seriously, who would be the European celebrity politician most likely to win an open field election?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:11:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Now seriously, who would be the European celebrity politician most likely to win an open field election?

Lacking a common media/celebrity circus my serious answer is the one backed by the EPP.

My flippant answer is last years Eurovision winner. People have at least voted for he/she/them once before.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:31:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lordi for EU president!

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:32:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This goes back to whethet having the local party support you guarantees that party voters who don't know who you are and cannot understand you speak will vote for you.

Then again, how many voters vote for a candidate they've actually know let alone hears speak, even in domestic elections. What fraction of the voters just vote based on the party logo?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:34:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Without having any candidates who you know who they are and can understand their speak, I think local party approval is everything. In particular since the local party or no one at all will campaign for the candidate in media and on the streets.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 04:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, in 19th century US how many voters heard the presidential candidates speak? Railroads, mass meatings and good vocal training can only do so much.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 05:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is easier to follow the judgment of a party if you can re-assure yourself that you could check up yourself if it matters. A candidate speaking in a language you can't understand doesn't gives you that excuse.
by IM on Wed Oct 31st, 2012 at 03:36:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be able to mount a campaign in all (or at least most) states you need an organisation, in particular since the EU does not have common media. So in reality I expect the european parties to field candidates, one for each or together in coalitions depending on election system.

And since the european parties are what they are, I expect some convoluted internal process where deals are struck related to other seats. Then when the EPP and PES has one each it is only as local splinters that other conservative or soc-dem candidates can play a role. How is the Bavarian conservative going to campaign in Portugal if the local EPP supports the official EPP candidate?

If we have french-style two-round direct election (which I think is most likely if there is direct elections) then the other european parties field one each and gets knocked out in the first round. If we have the parliament appoint the president the candidates supported by EPP and PES becomes the real alternatives, just like the party leaders for SDP and CDU are the real alternatives for chancellor.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:27:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aren't you assuming decent turnout? If turnout is very low, the countries or regions with a local candidate may get much higher turnout, possibly enough to counterbalance the lack of support elsewhere.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 03:35:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, lets put some numbers in it. Which of course demands a host of assumptions.

EU has a population of 500 millions. Say 400 millions of voting age.

In 2009 43,24% voted for EP. The EP election in general has lower participation rate then the national elections.

Germany is largest single country with 81 millions. Say 65 millions of voting age.

Assume first round of french style election with the european parties each fielding a candidate, except the German CDU that fields a splinter candidate.

Now say that only 30% would vote across the board and German CDU would field a splinter candidate bringing interest and a 60% participation rate. Say that the EPP candidate gets 36% of the votes outside Germany (EPP share in 2009) and the German CDU candidate gets 50% of votes in Germany (CDU+CSU had 40% in the last German election + homestate bonus).

So 36% of 30% of (400-65) millions = 35 millions for the EPP-candidate vs 50% of 60% of 65 millions = 19,5 millions for the CDU candidate.

The real winner here is of course the PES candidate that with 27% of the EU vote and say the same of the German vote, yielding 27% of 30% of (400-65) millions = 27 millions and 27% of 60% of 65 millions = 10,5 millions wins the first round and faces of against an EPP candidate with weak support in Germany in round two.

So no, I don't think low participation rate is not enough to over come the splintered nature.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 04:06:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As you say, a host of assumptions. But the one that might be wrong is the assumption that EP elections are a guide. EP elections are usually for local, national parties. If the vote is for somebody from another country, participation might be a lot lower; I don't see any way to estimate this.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 04:11:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought 30% instead of 43% was significantly lower...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 04:21:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thinking some more. Say that we adjust paticipation rates so the CDU candidate knocks out the EPP candidate. The PES candidate benefits even more as he/she faces a candidate without support outside Germany.

In either scenario, the smart thing for EPP to do is to nominate the German.

The really interesting question is if the european parties can gather behind a candidate and a program or if the effort will split them. Or if they hold together, what effect it will have locally. Will we get the European version of the demise of dixiecrats and New England republicans?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 05:11:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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