The Great Debate UK
–Dr Marie Julie Chenard is Deputy Head of the Cold War Studies Programme at LSE IDEAS and Academic Officer for the Dahrendorf Symposium Project at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The opinions expressed are her own.–
The European elections are the second biggest exercise in democracy world-wide (behind India). Nearly 400 million EU citizens were eligible to vote their representatives to the European Parliament between the 22nd and 25th May, but only 43% actually did. What can be done to increase participation in elections that have an impact on 500 million people?
Declining turnout in the European elections is a serious threat to the legitimacy of a very young democracy. It is an on-going experiment beyond the nation state. MEPs have only been elected by direct universal suffrage since 1979. It was only in 2009 that the Lisbon Treaty gave the European Parliament have an equal say on nearly all EU laws and empowered it to play a key role in electing the President of the European Commission – all efforts to close the perceived democratic deficit.
Low electoral participation also means significant gains for insurgent parties such as UKIP in Britain and Front National in France – parties who represent a protest votes. Paradoxically, these anti-EU parties are increasing their decision-making power over a political space they are fighting against.
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. Sughra Ahmed is a Research Fellow at the Policy Research Centre, which is based at the Islamic Foundation in Leicestershire and specialises in research, policy advice and training on issues related to British Muslims.
By Sughra Ahmed
It may seem well and good to think children should be seen and not heard - there's nothing wrong with a touch of Victorian, especially true during a good movie! But what if the censored are not young children at all? What if they are flashpoints in our conversations on not so trivial subjects, you know, things like national security, integration and democracy. And what if, instead of listening, we systematically speak on their behalf, saying what they are thinking and how they fit into the whole social and political spectrum.
- Andy Powell is the CEO of Edge, an independent education foundation dedicated to raising the status of practical and vocational learning. Edge is leading the education and business communities in the second annual celebration of vocational qualifications, VQ Day (Vocational Qualifications Day), on 24 June 2009. The opinions expressed are his own. -
It’s a challenging time to be running a small or medium enterprise (SME). Despite talk of “green shoots” the unemployment figures out today paint a fairly dim picture, with the prospect of a worsening scenario in September and tough prospects for graduates and school leavers this summer.