27 May, 2014

Elections2: A Politburo system has diddled voters out of their European voice, again and again!

What would Americans say if in elections for Congress a citizen of one State had ten times the amount of votes than another State? What if some Americans were able to start voting at different ages, 16 or 18? And what if there was gross discrimination that would discourage anyone standing for Congress by demanding high amounts of money as deposits, and/or requiring vast numbers of signatures? How would Americans react if signatures from the ‘guys’ of government parties were worth 300 times the value of ‘normal’ citizens? Don’t you think Americans would be up in arms? Wouldn’t there be a long list of cases up before the Supreme Court, demanding justice?
All these malpractices are common in Europe. The European Union does not have a true supranational democracy as defined by the treaties. It is a counterfeit based on crooked practice. It has a distorted political oligarchy run by a Politburo. Discrimination is rife. It is the reason that the present European elections are fraudulent. Who gains? The secretive European Council is able to decide, while the Parliament still is impotent to resist them.
That’s not the worst of it. It is not a matter of who you vote for but IF you can vote for your preferred candidate. Who fixes the rules for voting? Most important of all is the secret vote in the European Council after the vote. These politicians can totally ignore the outcome. The president of Parliament may have been already decided in advance — before the elections. They decide about who takes power and how the taxpayers’ money will be used.
NEVER in more than sixty years have national governments allowed a real European election with a single Statute across the entire European Union countries. They block all reform. They want to have national elections for the European Parliament. Today we have 28 NATIONAL elections. This makes it impossible for a voter to make a European choice. Even if he identified what he considered the right European policy amongst the the socialist, liberal or European popular parties, he or she would have NO guarantee that the national candidate would reflect this policy. Voting is subject to block votes. In many countries the voter cannot even choose a real person. He or she is forced to vote for a national party list rather than an individual. That’s like giving a blank cheque to someone for five years without knowing who would spend it.
And now the party clique of these main parties are trying to make the Commission an exclusive reserve for politicians when the treaties say clearly that NO politician should be member of the Commission.
Politicians in the clique of Brussels Politburo have turned the European system into political nepotism for their friends and buddies.
How do they do it? You can know their secrets. They even published them officially at taxpayers’ expense.
Do you want to know how to make sure how all the political clique get re-elected to the European Parliament? Want to learn how to eliminate and confuse any other political parties that have the audacity to oppose you? If your voter-buddies are not happy with just a single vote, do you want to know where they can have ten votes?
All these and many more tips for cheating in the European elections can be found in a recent publication by whom? A secret Handbook by the Mafia? Not at all. The publication comes from the European Parliament itself.
Every time the Parliament goes to the ballot boxes the European Parliament publishes such a Handbook . Naturally it is not called How to cheat in the European Elections. That would give too much away. It is published with a boring cover and given a long and boring title. Its title is ‘The European Elections; EU Legislation, National Provisions and Civic Participation‘. It is a ‘Study’. It is published by the Directorate-General for Internal Policies. The Department C of this directorate is curiously called ‘Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.’
Citizens’ rights is a bit rich. It is more about running roughshod over their rights. The Handbook also cheats the reader. Being a Handbook on cheating, it does not give all the tricks on cheating. The earnest seeker for democracy will have to search the web and the blogs for other examples.
The author does make a brave attempt at exposing some facts and abuses. However, a major effort should be made in presenting them to the public. Reform would be even better. Frankly enough, the publication starts with the treaty provisions from the European Community Treaty.
“The European Parliament shall draw up a proposal for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States or in accordance with principles common to all Member States. The Council shall, acting unanimously after obtaining the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by a majority of its component Members, lay down the appropriate provisions, which it shall recommend to Member States for adoption in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.”
When in 1979 after Court action Europeans had the first opportunity to vote for the European Parliament, the national politicians (acting as the ‘Politburo’) made an extraordinary decision. They looked at the above treaty article and magnanimously allowed citizens to have a vote. But then they stopped mid-sentence! They ‘allowed’ elections on a national basis (where they could impose national rules). But they REFUSED the second part of the sentence. They blocked an election based on a Single Statute — that is common rules for selecting and voting for MEPs. They imposed their own rules in each of the Member States. ‘Coincidentally’ these rules all favoured the governmental parties and raised obstacles to their alternatives or critics.
At the time the Treaties of Rome required simply ‘a uniform procedure‘ full stop. That is a Single Statute. The slight modification of later treaties about ‘common principles‘ makes no difference at all. A Single Statute is required to say whether MEPs can be elected at 18 or 25 years minimum and whether they have to put up big deposits etc in one State but not in another. The thorny question of massive financing the ‘Politburo’ parties to the detriment of others also has to be tackled.
Parliament since made a few lukewarm attempts to implement this Single Statute. The Council refused. Then the Council tried to change the treaties to make it even more biased, without much success. That is basically too dishonest. The only people who benefit from any distortion or blockage of the original legal duty are the political parties, of which the governments are the prime representation.
Let’s go back to the Founding Fathers. They had a good idea, which showed commendable honesty and fairness. How would it work? To put it another way: what do citizens expect from a uniform, fair and open electoral system? This is not new territory. The battle for democracy in every country has developed the list of requirements. The system must include:
  • ·The right of any mature citizen to vote.
  • · The right of any citizen to create a party, peaceful movement or interest group.
  • · No restrictions based on of educational level, religion, financial standing
  • · One person, one vote.
  • · No discrimination by age, gender or race
  • · No artificial barriers, such as financial requirements, property-ownership.
  • · No restriction by requiring signed agreement of existing government parties.
Then we come to the right to vote. Should Governments, not citizens, say who votes? Obviously not. Some countries limit voters to those over 18 years; others over 16. One area of Europe, Gibraltar, was not allowed for a long time to vote at all. That was because the powers-that-be did not want to have one MEP elected from this small area, close to Spain. The voters appealed to the Courts against this discrimination and won. The judgement was given, not in the EU’s Court in Luxembourg, but in the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. What a failure of European governments! Of course this situation would not have arisen at all if the governments had obeyed their obligations in the treaties and allowed citizens to create equal rights for all citizens.
The right to have multiple votes. Here’s how to bias the European Parliament to gain extra influence. Voters are allowed to vote anywhere they have residence. But the votes are not equal. The same voter of a big State can move to a small country and increase the weight of his or her vote by a factor of ten. Thus the same national has either one vote or ten votes depending on where the ballot box is. Of course privileged people having the right to ten votes and thus influencing the political colour of the MEPs in Parliament was of no particular concern while de Gaulle and others had ‘chloroformed’ Parliament’s power and the Council totally ignored its Opinions. De Gaulle also gave votes to the Associated Territories because he considered they would vote for him even though they are not part of Metropolitan France.
Big votes in small States. One MEP in Germany represents 838,700 citizens. A Maltese MEP represents a mere 70,200 citizens. Nowadays when the Parliament has a serious voice in a multi-billion euro budget, the voters should be asking to clean-up the patently unfair system. Should the small countries be worried that will losing their over-representation with a one citizen, one vote system? Hardly. The small countries such as Luxembourg have always had a big advantage and they will retain it. The small States are usually the most impartial and most European. They demand fair play among the bullying politics of the big States. In any free vote in a pan-European election, it is inevitable that if the small States continue to emphasize honesty and fairness, and a European common good (rather than national bias), their candidates will always get high representation in Parliament.
Right to stand as a candidate. Governments will tell you who can stand. Some countries say the candidates should be at least 18 and others 21. Some, like Romania, say only 23 year-olds can stand. In three States, Greece, Cyprus and Italy, you have to be at least 25 years before you can stand. This is a good technique to cut out idealistic youths or some rumbustious rebels fed up with corrupt practice!
Costs. States can make it a tough struggle to stand as an independent candidate. Some States require no deposit. Why don’t they all? Others require candidates to find a deposit amounting to multiple thousands of euros. If they could only win enough votes against the stiff, privilege-entrenched governmental party competition, they might get the money back. Otherwise they lose. The national media is not likely to give much space to newcomers or publicize their views fairly as it might upset the biggest advertiser, the government. If they don’t win a minimum number of votes (also set by governments) and they keep trying, they will be penalized each time they do until they learn to stop. They will be stuck with mounting debts. One country had previously created the astounding wheeze to dissuade candidates by saying that candidates must pay 3600 euros to the State for the cost of printing ballot papers! This is a great tactic to make sure that no candidates from the poor sections of society can stand.
Signature Restrictions. States require candidates to publish names of supporters before they can be recognized as a movement. One Member State says that to stand as candidate only one signature is required. Of course that is not a normal citizen’s signature. It is that of a deputy, that is, a member of the existing political élite. Is it equal for someone who wishes to point out their failings? If the candidate wants to oppose the standing political powers-that-be, he or she has to get a few more signatures. Not one but 250 signatures. Thus we have a measure of how the political parties who wrote the law consider ordinary citizens. One politician (who is responsible both for the benefits and the problems that citizens are experiencing) is worth 250 ordinary citizens. In Spain you have to accumulate 15,000 signatures. But don’t worry if you are with a government party you only need 50 — whether national or on some local council or other. That translates to one politician equals 300 ordinary citizens.
The value of a Candidate. That sum of one politician= 250 or 300 ordinary voters is not worst devaluation of their fellow citizens by incumbent political parties. Other countries require 4000 signatures or even 30,000 signatures in a single constituency. Each time a list of signatures is required, it gives the governmental opponents the opportunity to dispute the validity of the actual signature count. In the worst case they can put pressure on signatories to change their minds.
Language control. A new small political movement may have to deal with linguistic discrimination. It may not have a base in one capital but be spread across several national frontiers. It could get major political resistance and blockage from governing parties in one or more national capitals. They may see it as a threat to national policies where they unfairly discriminate against minorities.
The irresponsible List system. Some countries have completely done away with the voters right to pick candidates whom the public can hold responsible. They create a list system so that only the party machines can choose the names of the clique who will actually get into Parliament. Thus the party bosses, the big brothers or the big sisters, define who will be more equal than the others. This system was foisted on the public in some cases purely for internal party reasons, to cut out the people — ‘extremists’ — inside the party that the top leaders did not want to see succeed. The List system is fundamentally unfair for a representative democracy. No public protest, no discussion had any effect on this chicanery. The voters where treated with haughty disdain. Some States refuse to let citizens choose their preferences on the list — it must stay in the priorities of the party machine. Others let voters pick those on the list but they have to stay within the one party list. That only encourages party machines to the detriment of independent thinkers.
Voting NONE OF THE ABOVE is seldom an option. At a time when many voters are disenchanted with the behaviour of politicians, voters should be given the option that the system needs reform. Instead some countries impose fines on those who do not vote for what some voters consider a corrupt cartel. In economics the consumers’ last chance against a cartel is not to buy. A political cartel that does not offer this last option of signalling dissatisfication is reinforcing corruption. At the very least it builds up frustrations in honest protesters at the lack of choice. Computer voting systems that remove the non-vote option magnify their exasperation.
Compulsory voting is the tactic of the politically lost. If governments have to resort to fines for voters who do not vote, it shows that no party is attractive. Even with a number of countries that insist on compulsory voting, Europe has more voters that refuse to vote than those who go to the ballot. That shows the trend of ever-worsening turn-out to the present 43 percent underscores the lack of confidence and trust in both politicians and party machines. In Slovenia only 13 percent thought it worthwhile to vote.
THE GREATEST LACK is the Absence of the European Dirmension required by Treaty. The nationalist governments and their political parties have made great efforts to cut out the European dimension. The Parliament was designed from the beginning to be the house of the representatives of all the European people. The treaties require a Single Statute and the ability to vote across the European Union. Not 28 national elections. This cuts the authority of Parliament. A real European election would encourage full dialogues and build solidarity. The people and especially the young people are far more European than these grey beards.
Over the course of revisions of the treaties, governments, that is ruling political parties, have made sure that their own political patch, ‘their State’ is protected against any European democrats. The idea of One citizen, One vote is annulled. They created geographical divisions based on retaining power. Each election they get an additional warning. Voter turnout declines. The smoke screen of political parties is having less and less effect on the public.
Why should a voter be restricted by geography in voting for a candidate or even worse for a list system in the place where he or she resides? Why can’t the voter choose the best candidate that responds to his or her interests and policy positions? Are the 28 European governments afraid that voters in all countries may discern an honest and impartial personality, whose reputation has spread across the border? Are they worried if the voters turn in mass to a candidate who has fearlessly fought corruption elsewhere?
Even on the basis of identifying a political choice closer to the voter’s own position, cross-border voting should be possible. After all Parliament is about dealing with cross-border issues. This identity of a non-native candidate in another Member State is quite possible nowadays with innovative web systems like www.euprofiler.eu .
A voter can find amongst all the European candidates the nearest to his own wishes and proclivities. If any voter does so, they might be in for a shock. The same policy and interest position are simultaneously touted by left-wing, center and right-wing parties but in different States. What is a ‘left-wing’ policy in one country is espoused as a right-wing one in another!
When the MEPs arrive in Parliament they will then vote in blocks in great left, center or right-wing coalitions. So the effect of the voter’s careful policy choice is often completely forgotten. Before each vote, the leader of each mega-grouping holds up his hand. With a thumb up or a thumb down, the group leaders act like a Roman emperor giving orders to the troops for the dispatch of a gladiator or Christian martyr.
How did the Founding Fathers design the system to maximize the political responsibility of each member? The members sat in alphabetical order so the unthinking voting in political blocks was impossible. The original democratic system encompassed in the treaties provides the citizen with probably the best system of democracy in the world — provided that the provisions for democracy in Parliament and for civil society representation are taken seriously.
In other words, the party political system is not only showing its age (it started with a political trick under William III of Orange). It is ripe for a realistic European replacement.
To find out how your own country cheats the voter and compare it with the other cheats, refer to the European Parliament’s Handbook . It would be a good idea to ask the Parliament and Council to replace it by a single electoral system so there is no need for a new edition.

19 May, 2014

Elections1: Democratic Disconnect arises because Governments never obeyed treaty law in 60 years

 The key problem facing European institutions is the Democratic Deficit, Disconnect and Disaffection with its citizens. Those words were addressed by the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Schulz, sitting on the platform with her. She was speaking at an Interactive Event that she called on Your Wish List for Europe, held in the European Parliament 4 March 2014.

For sixty years the European Parliament has never held an election according to the rules specified in the Treaties! Voters should be asking one question above all: when are governments going to follow the democratic rules of the treaties they signed?

The legal rules for elections are clear and simple. Anything that diverges from them is a fraud and a cheat. The rules were set more than half a century ago. The founding treaties (Paris 1951, Rome 1957) make it clear how the European Elections should be run in a fair and just manner.

Article 138 of the Economic Community treaty and article 108 of the Euratom treaty say the same thing. The same words exist in the present treaty of Lisbon. The words were also retrospectively added to the founding Treaty of Paris, 1951. That was to clarify what should have already have been clear to any true democrat in the Paris Treaty’s article 20. That says the Assembly should consist of the ‘representatives of the peoples of the member states of the Community’. (High Authority translation). Representatives of the peoples should of course always be elected on a basis of equality. Note that the main principle is Representation of the Peoples, not of the States or governments or governance systems.

That vital obligation of governments has never been carried out in all Europe’s history. Europeans are left with a distorted and biased system created by and for the governments, that is political party élites.
The Rome treaties say: ‘The Assembly shall draw up proposals for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States.

Universal suffrage, that is a direct vote for members of the European Parliament, only took place in 1979.
The politicians did an extraordinary thing. It indicates their mentality of fraud. They cut the sentence with the requirement in TWO! They followed the first half but not the second.

The second part of the sentence — a uniform procedure for all of Member States — has NEVER yet been passed. We have today 28 national elections not one European one. Each State fixes its own elections!

Some States block opposition parties and make its restrictions. Some States get the equivalent of ten or twelve votes per voter compared with other Europeans!

The 1979 direct NATIONAL elections arrived three decades late. Previously the MEPs had been nominated by the national parliaments. It had advantages and disadvantages. In practice this meant that governments could control who was supposed to speak out for European democracy. A strong autocrat like De Gaulle made sure that the prestige and effectiveness of the Assembly was reduced to a minimum. That way the Council of Ministers became the illegitimate single controller of the budget. And the European budget could be used to subsidize French farmers, industries and others – who then voted enthusiastically for de Gaulle’s rip-off of the other European taxpayers.

Voters wanting something like democracy had to wait some 30 years from the time of Europe’s first assembly in 1949. That happened only after maximum pressure on the political oligarchy. When in government, political parties wanted to retain the maximum unfair advantage. The mills of God grind slowly but they grind small. The anti-democrats will get their come-uppance.

First we should ask the question: What is the purpose of a Parliament in a supranational Community? The treaties say that before any legislation could be passed, Parliament has to give an Opinion (as do the Consultative Committees). An Opinion is an extensive criticism of the Proposal of the Commission. A key feature of the system is that only an independent and impartial body can introduce legislation. That avoids corruption by political interests.

The Commission makes the first step by suggesting an impartial draft law. To do this effectively, it enters into a permanent and close dialogue with all members of organized Civil Society. They have a debating chamber called the Consultative Committee (the Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions).

This was specifically created to avoid the plague of shadowy lobbyists we have today. Lobbyists may outnumber all the bureaucrats. Once the law is drafted, the Parliament representing the people, the Consultative Committees (representing organized Civil Society) and the Council representing Member States are to give their own analysis of the measure and point out any shortcomings. Such a system is the most intelligent way to deal with unintended consequences of legislation by bureaucrats.

The Commission is required to be as independent, impartial and as well-informed as possible and act like a just judge. The treaties forbid acting for any interest, whether paid or not, including political activity. Scandalously government political parties thumb their nose at this. They see raw power and want to have it.
The European Commission is not a European government as it has only the option of making a proposal where the treaties give it the right. It has management of the consequences of such regulations, only where Member States (and civil society and affected individuals, according to the treaties) say it has.

It is essential that such a system exists in today’s world of increasing complexity. It also avoids the Commission membership becoming corrupt by rabble-rousers, political interests or hidden cartels. Its task is to expose to the full light of open debate any lobbyist bias towards big business, labour, consumer groups or industries or a region.

Under the centralizing fancies of General de Gaulle, it was unthinkable for his grandeur that the French government should be reduced to a mere commentator on a draft European law. How could Brussels bureaucrats meddle with French cheeses? He poured scorn on the whole idea of the supranational European Community. He ‘chloroformed’ the institutions. Then he started a major power grab, insisting that only the Council of Ministers could decide the legislation and the money questions. That’s not what the treaties say. It is arrogant to assume that politicians with their limited background can foresee all the problems of all the citizens. And be aware of the real needs of the future.

Thus the secretive Council of Ministers began to dominate often with the active collusion of the Gaullist and nationalist-dominated Commission. While the Commission still received such legal Opinions from the other institutions like the Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, it promptly ignored them. The Council and the Commission (which served as its secretariat) may not even have bothered reading them. The Council of Ministers thus tried to convert the Communities to something like an uncontrolled and secret intergovernmental organ. What’s more, the European Communities produced plenty of taxpayers’ money to play with, including customs tariffs. Thus the vote-hungry national politicians could do secret budget deals with no controls. The result? Pouring European money into a vote-gathering machine that had no democratic power. It became an addiction. Voters had no control of the resultant meat mountains and wine lakes and massive corruption in southern Italy.

The Parliament had no moral authority. Why? Because the members were nominated by the governments. Just like the Consultative Committees today, (the EcoSoc and the Committee of Regions), they were not legitimately elected. Nor do they represent a European level. The Council in its power grab devalued the other institutions to the point in the 1960s that they looked like a useless appendix. The Community system thus experienced democracy theft. Governments blocked elections in the Parliament and in the Consultative Committees. And slowly the governmental parties tried to turn the Commission into their secretariat.

When in 1973 the British, Irish and Danes joined the Communities, the abuse was so flagrant and the system so undemocratic, the Labour Party boycotted the Parliament. That gave the right-wing parties a majority. Not that it mattered at all. No one cared what the Parliament said in its legislative Opinions. They just filled the waste bins at the Council.

Some Continental MEPs however were not only furious at this undemocratic stitch-up, they acted. They appealed to the institution created for this. Then the Council went too far. It passed legislation without even getting the proper Opinion. Some MEPs took the matter to the European Court. Schuman’s legal colleague, Pierre-Henri Teitgen, then an eminent professor of law, ably assisted them.

The upshot of all these scandals was that the governments were then forced to review the ‘chloroformed‘ question of direct elections. As anyone can see from the treaty article quoted above, the governments decided they would only fulfill the first part of the sentence and leave the other half. Curious affliction of partial blindness. That way they could retain the remaining undemocratic powers that General de Gaulle had foisted on the Communities.

De Gaulle had distorted the system but it takes a really honest Statesman to correct it. He made an undemocratic power grab. He is now dead but the levers of abuse and corruption remain.

Most are content with his unjust gains and ‘de-activated‘ institutions. Who will be the first to say: ‘Fellow Prime Ministers, the system is not fair. We and our political party machines are profiting illegally from this distortion. Let us correct it and give more power to the people and organized civil society as the Founding Fathers intended. All our States agreed to this at the beginning when we signed and ratified the treaties.

So today the world’s largest economic and peace-enhancing union has a governance system unfit for such global responsibilities. It has been sold a Mickey-Mouse substitute. That is like a cheap and nasty child’s watch versus a precision-made Swiss one. Europeans have a fraudulent system that deliberately deactivates what is the best system of democracy yet conceived.

The first questions for voters to ask the political parties are: ‘When are we going to get a single electoral system? How do you plan to go about it? When are you going to reinstate democratic powers for organized civil society? ’ I would be interested to know if there is a single political party or government that raised the question. So far I have not found one.