When voting for the European parliament, one can select a candidate from any of the local parties who then cooperate on European level. However, the local citizens are not presented with a choice between European options. Additionally, the members of the national parties have only indirect influence on the European one. The time is now to take direct control over the European parties and bring the European democracy closer to the citizens.

In 2014, there will be elections for the European parliament. During these elections, I will be able to vote for one of the Dutch parties I already know from the national elections – and possibly some newcomers. Afterwards, the elected officials will end up in a group of members of parliament together with members of parties with comparable views from other European countries. In the Netherlands, this leads to the especially confusing situation where two parties will both contribute to the liberal group.

Indirectly Democratic Parties Are Not a Good Idea
Although the European elections are held in a local manner, the national groups in the European parliament still need to work together. Therefore, there are European political parties. Those are commonly organised as associations of associations. In other words, the members of a European party are national parties.

The decisions of a national political party are controlled by its members. This commonly takes the form of a congress, where debate is held and decision are made. The same goes for European parties, but those attending the congress are merely representatives of the national ones. Thus, there is a form of indirect democracy, where the people elected in the board of a national party can send delegates to the congress of the European party.

An indirect democratic system causes citizens to be less involved. Additionally, it decreases the democratic legitimacy, as those making the decisions did not get the direct support from the electorate – in this case, the combined members of all involved national parties.

Let Me Elect the European Parties
If I am electing a member of a European party, I do not want to hear about the Dutch parties with comparable ideas. I want to elect a candidate of the European group of my choice. The use of a national party as an intermediary in the elections is simply confusing.

The – say – Dutch social-democrats have only few of the seats in the European parliament. However, due to the larger group they are part of, they can have influence on European politics. For voters, it should be clear which group this is and what the program of this group consists of. Therefore, an election where the European parties are directly named and have the same program in every member state is preferable.

We Are On Our Way…
I should note that I am a so-called associate member of ELDR. As a direct member, I have some influence, although the national delegates still stand stronger. Therefore, it seems that direct control for European citizens over European parties is coming closer. Nevertheless, we are by far not there. Thus, call for direct democracy in European parties!

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