It’s a familiar refrain: that the EU is not adequately democratic. You’ll hear it in the Brexit referendum campaign, most notably from the advocates of the UK leaving, but even David Cameron’s letter to Donald Tusk this week (full letter PDF here) touched upon the issue:
Yet this week in the European Parliament, MEPs were voting on their proposal (and yes, on this they do have legislative right of initiative!) to improve how European Parliament elections should function in the future. Politico has a summary of what happened here, and the news story from the EP itself is here. Votewatch has a breakdown of the outcome here.
The proposal contains a whole load of ideas – formalising the Spitzenkandidat process (possible), introducing trans-national election lists (long shot), allowing residents of the 4 Member States without overseas voting rights (CZ, SK, IE, MT) as yet to get that (eminently sensible), election threshholds in larger Member States (sensible
but unlikely – clarification of this at the end of the blog entry), and a system to stop double-voting (very sensible).
So how about the UK MEPs then?
All bar two of the seventy three of them voted against the proposal! Yes, even the Greens and Labour (bar David Martin I’m told). Catherine Bearder, the sole Lib Dem, was in favour. I’m of course not surprised by the behaviour of the Tories or UKIP opposing this.
I’m especially intrigued by the behaviour of Labour’s MEPs here. They were the only major S&D delegation to vote against, and of course their website has no explanation of why they voted against. The Labour member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee in the European Parliament is none other than Richard Corbett who is always to be active on Twitter, and his website, to defend himself, but is silent on this.
“See behind the daily headlines” his website says. So then Richard, what’s the rationale for the Labour Party voting against some pragmatic changes to improve how European Elections work?
Richard Corbett provides clarification:
@jonworth EPLPdecided to vote for most of the proposals it contained(&did),but was against transnat lists: 2tier MEPs further from citizen.
— Richard Corbett (@RCorbettMEP) November 12, 2015
[Further update 14.10.2015, 1230]
While the issue of national threshholds is not the central one in this blog entry, Pirate MEP Julia Reda has been providing extra context on that on Twitter. Her view is that the part about threshholds will actually be acceptable to Germany – read the whole thread on Twitter here.