European Democracy

european-union-flag-1024x7681Brexiters have a constant refrain that we need our democracy back.  It is true that democracy means different things to different people but I would contend that there is a general consensus that for a place to be democratic its laws must be passed by a representative body and that those representatives must be replaceable at elections.

Democracy
Is the European Union democratic?  No European law can be passed without the consent of the European parliament. The lower house of that parliament is elected directly by the people of Europe.  Indeed it is more representative of the European people than the British government is in representing the British.  Members of the upper house of Europe are appointed by their respective governments – not as democratic as it should be – but better than the British upper house of Lords which is simply appointed by our Prime Minister alongside people who got there simply by birth.  So Europe is democratic.

Of course the more astute Brexiters might well say that okay Europe is democratic but we  British are out-voted all the time by the other Europeans because there are 64m of us and 444m of them.  This is true.  However, Britain votes on the winning side 87% of the time – not 100% – that is far greater than your chance of electing the government of your choice in Britain which currently is stands at 37% (or 24% depending on your point of view).  Britain has greater sway in Europe than you do in electing your British government.  In fact, over twice the sway – pretty good odds if you ask me.

Brexiters say – but we want 100% and 87% is not good enough.  Hang on – who is the we? Here in Elmbridge we recently voted for a new administration which is not Conservative. Yet we are still governed by a Conservative administration in Surrey.  Do the people of Elmbridge suddenly claim that we fear being swamped by the rest of Surrey?  Surrey has continually elected Conservative administrations for over century yet Britain has, on many occasion, been run by the Labour party.  Does Surrey aim for Sexit?  Leaving because you do not like the wider view is a possible decision.  But if we are intent to apply this idea in relation to Britain and Europe why not equally apply to England and Britain or Surrey and England or Elmbridge and Surrey?  Would we, the people of Elmbridge, leave Britain because we are often outvoted by the rest of the island? Of course not.  There is no consistency to it – the “we” argument does not cut it.

Getting rid of the Government
Except in the recent Elmbridge elections we can only vote for a third of the councillors each year.  It can take a number of years to change administrations. In some ways this is a good thing because the public mood at the time of a particular election would not overly affect the administration.  In any case there is a debate to be had.  Surrey has a general election every four years, Britain and Europe every five years.

Just as the people of Surrey can remove their government  – though choose not to – the people of Britain and the people of Europe can get rid of theirs.  In 2014 Europeans had the chance of removing the majority administration but did not do so.  In 2015 the British had a chance to change their government and chose to do so.  It’s up to the people.

In Europe the Conservative Party (74 MPs) and UKIP (46 MPs) are in opposition and the Labour party (190 MPs) and the Liberal Party (70 MPs) are in government.  Perhaps that’s why UKIP and so many British Conservative MPs want to leave.  Who knows?

9 thoughts on “European Democracy

  1. I am assuming the opinions that you express here are you own.

    It is impossible to overturn EU legislation.
    A vote for remain is a vote for dis-enfrachisement.
    I have watched with increasing concern at the continual erosion of our sovereignty.
    The EU treats us with disdain. Our PM showed how it is impossible to make changes that benefit our country.
    We as a nation were never consulted about the expansion and the continual desire for expansion of the of the EEC, EU. If we had, the problems that we have now with migraton would not have happened because we would have said no.
    It strikes me that the same people who said we could not survive without the Euro are the same that say we cannot survive without staying in the EU. Got that right didn’t they!

    • Yes Mark these are my thoughts such as they are. We’ll have to disagree on this one.

      European laws are often repealed it is just that you might not be aware of it.
      We all (not children etc) have the vote. No-one as far as I know is not allow to vote.
      Sovereignty is in the eye of the beholder. You might have a sense of lose but I did not. Indeed if I have any sense of lose it is more because of the overweening British state more than Europe, Surrey or Elmbridge.
      My experience of the European government is that it is more sensitive to me than the British government is. I would be interested to know how your life has been effected negatively by the European government.
      Every time a new state joined the union Britain had the opportunity to veto it – it chose not to. The current government is in favour or Turkey joining the union – as is Boris by the way. I am not in favour of Turkey joining. However, the fact that Britain chose not to use its veto is a failure from your perspective of the British government. But that is not the European government’s fault. We live in a representative democracy not a plebiscite democracy. Unfortunately the British parliament does not represent England very well but that is not the European government’s fault.
      What are the problems that you experience because of migration – be careful I am a migrant! Are you concerned about immigration, emigration or both?
      It was ridiculous to say we would not survive if we did not join the Euro and today to say that we will not survive outside the union today. However, in my view we should have joined the Euro (Not this version but a proper currency – which it would have been had we joined).

  2. To say we ‘vote on the winning side ‘ 87% of the time means that if we disagree with that side we loose.
    Lost democratic rights as far as I see it.
    Only choice is to leave the EU.
    I voted to join the common market in ’75 for better trade conditions not a new offshore government.

    • Dear Doug

      We live in Surrey. Since 1945 Surrey has been governed by one party, the Conservatives, yet Britain has been been governed by the Labour party for nearly half that time. So we in Surrey have got our way 55% of the time. Yet we do not leave.

      You might have voted for the common market in 1975 but what was on offer was just one stage on the path to ever closer union and that was what I voted for. The since the its inception as the Coal and Steel community the EU has achieved its most importance purpose – to keep union internally peaceful. Indeed it is the longest period of peace in history.

      • Dear Andrew,
        We are a democratic country and accept decisions made by our representatives I.e. the elected government, whichever party is in power, also democratically elected.
        The EU is an authority which has not been elected (except by stealth) and this referendum is about giving the EU this authority.
        The record of 40 years of interference from this body does not make me confident that I can do this.
        I think we should leave and suggest a trading agreement only with our neighbouring countries.

        • The European government is more representative of the European people than the British government is of British people. The British lower house is elected by the winner takes all system which means that UKIP did not get its fair share of MPs in 2015. The European lower house is elected by proportional representation and it relates very well the views of the European population. I would prefer that Europe used a preference voting system but for Britain that is entirely up to the British government. The British upper house is appointed by the prime minters of the day. The European upper house is appointed by the government of each member state.

          The president of the European Commission is appointed by the European lower house rather like the head of the British executive who is selected by the British lower house. The president of the European commission appoints his (or her) cabinet in a similar way to the British prime minter appointing his cabinet.

          In 2014 nearly the whole of Europe had television debates with the aspiring candidates for president from each party going head to head. Britain was one of the very few countries that did not take part – I blame the BBC for not doing so. The irony is that these debates were held in each county in English because that is the European common language.

          See my blog on trade agreements to see why we would lose out.

          • Thanks for that explanation Andrew.
            I agree our system of representation is in need of updating to express our views fairly.
            However this is no excuse to allow another tier of external government to override our parliament.
            Approx 50% of the population is not represented by any party including your own lib dems and it is very annoying for party leaders to state that they represent all members.
            A declaration to this effect would be appreciated.
            Apparently the cost of democratic freedom is £4300 , it used to be more expensive…..

      • I feel extremely disenfranchised living in a safe Tory seat. We are fortunate to have an MP who is effective at both local and cabinet level at the moment, but it seems to me that I have no way of effectively expressing my opinion on the governmentin a general election, unless I move to somewhere like Basildon.

        • My own view – and I think it radical – is that the national government should be elected by fifths on the first Sunday in June. In other words, a fifth of the country elects their MPs to national parliament in their area for five years.

          Candidates would be competing in multi-member constituencies – as with local governments – ranging from one members in very rural counties to seven in in very urban areas. Surrey would have, say, two constituencies – North and South. Electors would vote by preference – 1, 2 and 3 etc.

          If we had had this system it is unlikely that we would be having this referendum now because the British parliament would have been more representative so the issue would not have arisen.

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