The Guest Blog

Often, whether it is governmental or parliamentary activity, we tend to make two mistakes: we tend to believe that “everybody is the same” (preferably “inefficient and corrupt”), and to reverse the rule of exception and thereby harming the image of the institution (“how to have confidence in Brussels, if Le Pen is there?”). The truth is that we, as ordinary citizens, are different, with a different degree of experience and engagement, than those we choose. Therefore, nuances are important in assessing the legislator. In this editorial I propose to have a thorough look at the European legislator.

Let’s look at power-opposition, the ideology and discipline of voting, and the relationship between quality and quantity, political and technical. First, in the European Parliament there is no difference between the people in power or those representing the opposition, but tactical alliances. Of course, each political group’s strategy is to put its stamp on specific legislation, especially when they have a rapporteur on the dossier, but to pass legislation compromises are necessary, just as negotiations with other groups, which often neutralizes political hues. That explains why, according to statistics in the European Parliament 60% of the S&D group (Social Democrats) and EPP (European People’s Party) voted the same.

Secondly, with the above in mind, I move to the role of ideology. This has an important role, but in this case it rather explains a principal vote, but exceptions can happen. Traditionally, the ALDE (European Liberals) votes with EPP for economic cases, while they vote for S&D files that touch upon “values” (such as human rights). The European S&D is the one who generally holds the most to ideology.

Regarding the relationship between quality and quantity, between “technical” and “political” MEPs (though both are political actors par excellence), they deserve a closer look. Under the pressure of work assessments, which have focused on quantity, many MEPs felt the need to privilege quick tools, but really lacking depth, like one minute speeches at the plenary in Strasbourg instead of leading reports. Quality should make its way into these reviews more often. Similarly, in the European Parliament, we meet two kinds of MEPs: “technical reference” (involved as reported) and “political grandstanding” (focusing on reputation).

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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