Saturday, June 13, 2009

The European Disunion

I haven't written about the recent EU elections yet (which wrapped up on Sunday after four days of voting) because, frankly, nobody was talking about it. There were articles in the papers but they were stuffed by news of the iminent (and now effective) insolvency of Anachron, the Opel deal, and the Air France search. Last week, one of the Frankfurt papers ran a double-spread about the European Parliament but it's tone was almost like a travelogue, a peek into a far-off alien world.

The poll numbers bore this out. Turn-out was the lowest in the history of Europe-wide elections, despite being the election itself being the largest ever. Not to mention that the world is in the grips of a massive and ever-more complicated economic crisis and the EU, as a genuine governmental body, is in the middle of everything.

And who won? The lunatics. The "center"-right did well in every country. Anti-immigrant groups did very well. What they call "Euro-skeptics" also did well. It was not a good day for the EU.

I asked my friend Daniel about it the other night, on our way home from drinking a pitchel of
Ebbelwoi (it's an apple cider, not a lost Ewok). Daniel was sincerely sad about the election. I believe in Europe, he said. "We should be one. But I don't think this will happen for a long time."

As much as I understand it, the inability of many Europeans to recognize how long it took the US to become a genuinely unified nation often frustrates me. But listening to Daniel the other night, my heart went out to him. In spite of its bureaucratic lust, the EU really is an idea that can be killed any day. If the elections keep going this way, that might happen sooner than later.

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