European Press Review: A Vote of No Confidence | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 15.06.2004
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European Press Review: A Vote of No Confidence

Editorials across the continent again focused on the fallout of Sunday's European Parliament ballot.

The Dutch paper de Volkskrant said it was time to look at what the election results are really saying: It claimed that despite its good intentions, the parliament has not fooled voters into believing it is a center of power. This realization has nothing to do with growing Euroskepticism but with accepting EU reality, it said. The paper added that better co-operation between the different EU institutions is essential.

On the other hand Germany’s Leipziger Volkszeitung said voters don't know enough about the parliament, the institutions and the people who work there. It wrote that the results highlight the EU's evident lack of the human touch.

That opinion was echoed by Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende, which said the EU is widely viewed as bureaucratic and redundant. The low voter turnout served to indicate that Europeans didn't feel it was important. The paper warned EU countries to take this message seriously. It was also critical of the fact that only a handful of countries are planning to hold a referendum on the draft EU constitution. The people should decide, it wrote.

The Financial Times in London also looked ahead to the EU summit, which is where the immediate impact of the elections will be felt. Now countries like the United Kingdom and Poland can be expected to defend their position with renewed vigour. The daily paper found it disheartening that voter turnout was so low, yet added that the solution is not to give members of the European parliament more powers, but to ensure that their existing powers are more clearly defined.

Czech paper Lidove Noviny stated the ballot results are related to the speed of Europe’s integration, which it claimed has created a psychological barrier for citizens. The paper said people are now more concerned about their own countries than anything else, adding that it is not enough just to point out all the benefits of membership.

Europeans have registered a massive vote of no confidence in governments they elected, observed Britain’s Independent newspaper. In one way this is an entirely acceptable use of the ballot box, yet in another the results demonstrate just how remote the European project remains to most voters. Not all voters cared enough to register a protest, and those who did generally expressed it negatively.