The European elections will take place this weekend. I would have liked to be able to provide you with an in-depth analysis of the platforms of all the political parties and advise you on how you should vote, if you want to see serious environmental action, especially in regards to deforestation and climate change. That’s way beyond my capacities as a single person, so instead I’ll try give you a general and possibly, more useful advice.
First of all, I know it sounds super trivial, I know you already heard it, but you should really you go out this weekend and vote on the EU elections, no matter what party you choose to support.
The EU elections are notorious for their low voter participation and this is a real problem for our institutions in Brussels. Despite the growing power of the European Parliament, people still feel like their vote wouldn’t do much to influence the politics of the giant bureaucracy of the EU. Many of the people who will end up voting this weekend will be skeptical of the EU and will vote on parties that are actively fighting to further diminish the power of our Union. If we don’t go and vote, we will allow these voices to take us even further away from acknowledging and solving the environmental issues that we face.
Individual states have much less leverage on the international scene than the EU as a unified market and a giant regulatory body. If we’re not happy about the corporate influence on the EU institutions, we’re definitely not going to make it better by weakening the power of these institutions. Most of our countries can’t do much to fight extremely powerful fossil fuel industries, multinational corporations and tech giants. We might disagree about the way the EU has done its job so far, but this means that we need to reclaim these institutions and make them defend our interests. There is a great video produced by Kurzgesagt that explains how crucial our participation in the EU elections is. After you watch it, let’s talk a bit more about the kinds of parties you might want to consider supporting.
Who do we vote for?
I assume that since you’re reading this on one of my blogs, you are a person that is quite concerned about the environmental crisis and would like to see serious action taken by our politicians. If there is a party in your country that seems to be as concerned as you are, and espouses the types of solutions that you deem necessary to solve this crisis, obviously, vote for them. In my case, I don’t believe that there is a major party in my country that represents exactly the type of policies that I would like to see implemented.
Left or green?
All of the left leaning parties acknowledge the existence and importance of the ecological crisis, but most of them don’t have it in the front center of their campaigns. On the other hand the green parties are clearly putting the environment right in the center of their agenda. But to my knowledge, many green parties are not promoting very drastic economic solutions. I want to see politicians who are willing to challenge giant corporations and who are not afraid to pass laws that will hurt their bottom lines or that will go against the holy principles of the free market. So on one hand, I want to vote green, and on the other hand I feel like I want to vote for ‘far left’ parties who are having a more hard-line approach to corporate power, even if their platforms are not centered around the environment. I really can’t tell you which choice is better, it depends on your political views and of the political climate of your country. But let’s read this brilliant quote from Noam Chomsky and see how it relates to this question. Unfortunately, I found the quote only in French, so I’m sorry if I butchered it in the translation :
If we do not contribute to a living, permanent democratic culture that is able to put pressure on the candidates, they will not do what we elected them for. Putting a piece of paper and going home will not change anything. – La Doctrine des bonnes intentions (2005), Noam Chomsky p. 102
There were two reasons why I brought you to read this article. I wanted to motivate you to go out and vote and at the same time I wanted to break your illusions that voting is going to be a sufficient way of changing the politics of the EU. No matter which party you choose to vote for, if you care about the ecological crisis you will have to do more. The polluting corporations are investing millions in lobbying for laws that benefit them and against important regulations that could help us. We need to become engaged in this process as citizens and start communicating with our elected officials. We need to lobby on behalf of the Earth, of the forests, of the animals and of our fellow human beings. By all means, go and vote this weekend, but between this and the next election let’s make sure that we hold the feet of our politicians to the fire. Let’s let them know that our vote is not a carte blanche. If they would want have our support again in four years they will have to prove that they are willing to take serious measures to address what is arguably the most important issue of our lifetime : the environmental crisis.
If you were going to vote anyway, try convincing a friend to vote as well. Share the article and drop a comment on Facebook so that more people are able to see it.
Steve the Bartender