Improving Europe’s governance

The democratisation of the governance structure of the EU is one of the main arguments of discussion among intellectuals and academics in Europe. In an editorial for the German newspaper Der Spiegel, Henrik Müller points the finger at the intergovernmental and technocratic logic through which EU policies and governance reform process are being carried out. The author calls for a radical change in the governance structure of the EU. Müller suggests that the European Parliament should be granted full legislative powers, including importantly the power to initiate legislative proposals, which is currently held exclusively by the European Commission. The latter reform, Müller argues, would kick-off a new era of effective democratic politics in Europe. Moreover, the author states that in the future MEPs should be elected according to a “one man, one vote” principle. This would imply that nation states would not be granted parliamentary seat quotas any longer. It would be up to supranational political parties instead to compose an electoral list that tries to maximise popular support in transnational constituencies.

On The Conversation, Richard Youngs analyses French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to set up a series of democratic conferences across Europe with the aim of reviving public interest in the EU and foster bottom up politics. Nevertheless, Youngs wonders whether the French President’s idea is nothing but another PR operation. “As currently formulated, it’s not clear whether Macron’s proposal will offer a radically new, more open-ended and freer process of participation or simply replicate the rather controlled consultation initiatives that the EU has overseen in the past”, he writes. Youngs calls for the EU to establish “far more permanent” tools to foster citizens’ influence on the decision making process.

Is Macron’s honeymoon already over?

Another focal point of the intellectual discussions of the last few weeks was the sharp drop in popularity experienced by the newly elected Emmanuel Macron. Several interpretations have been proposed to explain this phenomenon. In German conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Michaela Weigel argues that Macron revealed his unknown “authoritarian” traits over the past weeks. The French correspondent from Paris claims that both Macron’s decision to nationalise the STX shipyards at the expense of Italian partners, or to establish a direct communication channel with Libyan authorities, point in the direction of a lack of “Europeanism” by the French leader. According to Weigel, Macron should focus on the implementation of the economic reforms he promised during his electoral campaign, being wary of the strong opposition he will face in the upcoming months.

In Newstatesman, Pauline Bock presents a different view on the issue. According to Bock, Macron’s reforms plan is at odds with the interests of the electorate who voted for him as the only viable alternative to the Front National leader, Marine Le Pen. Consequently, Macron’s drop in the polls can be seen as linked directly to the harsh economic reforms he intends to implement in the country.

From fake news to fake history

In other news, the discussions about fake news and post-truth politics are making the headlines. In The Guardian, Natalie Nougayrède argues that, although fake news might represent an immediate danger for western societies, we should also be wary of what she dubs “fake history”. Drawing upon recent and ongoing political experiences in China, Hungary, Russia, Turkey and the US, Nougayréde claims that leaders make a lot out of re-framing the history of the countries they rule. For instance, the French editorialist claims that “controlling memory is at the heart of Putin’s regime”. Similarly, Brexiters have shown and propagated “nostalgia” for the days of empire during the 2016 referendum campaign. Nougayréde writes that “the access to the past” without any form of “limitation” is key to the success of democracies in the long run. “Yet the security of memory may not be as assured as we think”, she concludes.

Writing on The European, Rainer Zitelmann focuses on another aspect linked to the subject of fake news, namely what one could call the “no news” issue. Zitelmann accuses the German political parties of hindering any rational discussion on the topic of immigration, notwithstanding the fact that the issue represents the top priority for a majority of the German voters.

Post-truth politics is understood as the process of constructing political claims and electoral pledges on the basis of false news. On openDemocracy, Noam Titelman blames post-truth politics as the exploitations of popular anger, but proposes a different take on the matter, from a leftist perspective. Rather than rejecting the “politics of anger” altogether, Titelman argues, progressive parties need to embrace the paradigm of the “politics of feelings”. Leftist forces need to combine the former “politics of anger” with the “politics of goodness” so as to bring back constructive rationality to the political playground.


This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci

Photo Credits CC: vfutscher

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