On the eve of Croatia's accession in the European Union on the 1st of July 2013, the country held its first ever European elections. It will send 12 new MEPs in the European Parliament.
Turnout in the election on Sunday (14 April) was just 20.75% – the lowest ever in any election in Croatia, and one of the lowest in any member state in elections to the European Parliament. The center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Croatia's main opposition party, emerged victorious in elections to the European Parliament, the country's first such poll. The HDZ won six of Croatia's 12 seats in the Parliament, to be occupied from 1 July, when Croatia joins the EU. The HDZ has up to now had three of the 12 observer MEPs.
The Social Democrat party, which heads the national government, will drop from six observers to five MEPs. Although it had led in opinion polls, it apparently struggled to mobilize its supporters. The Labour Party took one seat, while three smaller parties failed to convert their one observer into an MEP. Labour's Nikola Vuljanic is currently a member of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament. You may read a more here .
“This result is also a twofold failure for the Socialist/Liberal government because not only did it lose the election but it also ran a very poor information campaign to promote it to the Croatian citizens, which resulted in the very low turn out. The government’s sub-par performance is not the best kick-off for Croatia’s EU accession,” the President of the European People’s Party (EPP),Wilfried Martens stated.
That once again shows the tragic mistakes our governments commit that lead to the indifference of the voters. The turn out for the European Parliament elections is ever decreasing to an alarming rate all over Europe. Croatia is only the latest country that we observe that phenomenon. Other countries that recently joined the EU, also witnessed an apathetic reaction of their voters for their first European elections.
How can we expect to make the EU more democratic if the voters do not see the point of voting? How can we expect to have a successful European integration if the citizens do not want to participate in the process? Perhaps that suits our leaders for now, as they do not have to be held accountable for what is going on in Europe. But the public's indifference is a sign of mistrust, anger, ignorance or apathy for European politics and that can not be good for the long term.
Because in the future it will be harder to convince them for any further reforms that Europe must take in order to progress. And of course, it can lead to a rise of nationalism and populism. If our leaders do not want to engage the citizens with Europe, then populist groups will fill the gap and gain the public's support. If they then want to introduce any new legislation that was agreed with their European counterparts, it will prove more difficult to gain the approval of the citizens.
Unless of course they do not want to give the public a say, or listen to their opinion. In that case they are doing a great job of alienating the people from the European project, thus making the EU an elitist haven!But then please could they stop preaching other regions about democracy?
The other conclusion I have made is that there is not a coordinated and competent Leftist of Center-Left party in Europe any more. People are turning to the Right/Center-Right out of disappointment from the Socialist parties, thus turning Europe more conservative. The party that won the Croatian European elections belongs to the same group that Chancellor Angela Merkel's party belongs to, the EPP (European People's Party).
Then how can the Europeans expect not to have austerity imposed on them, since they vote for conservative parties? The EPP is the most powerful political party in Europe right now. And that is because of the decline of popularity of many Socialist/Social Democratic or Liberal parties, due to the tragic mistakes they made during their leadership.
If the Left can not coordinate itself and regain the trust of the voters, then I am afraid that Europeans will have to be prepared for less social security and benefits. Because the agenda of any conservative party in Europe is a more "Thatcherite", globalized Europe to compete with the rising economies of this world.
I am not preaching against the EPP, I just want to make sure that Europeans know what they are voting for and what to expect for the future. They must be mature to accept the consequences of their actions.
Finally I wish to wholeheartedly welcome Croatia in the European family! I am confident that they will be a great asset to Europe.