Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Friday, May 08, 2009

public speaking, ah the joy

I've done another toastmaster's speech, and got another best speaker award. This is what I intended to say, although I went off script somewhere along the way and came up with a completely different ending somehow. Ah well, my knees didn't knock this time, and I even found myself almost, but only almost, enjoying it. Weird.

European Elections 2009: Why WE should be promoting them

Living in Brussels, the administrative centre of the European Union, I suspect a lot of you know that the European elections are taking place in June. They are the only transnational elections in the world, they take place every five years, and this year is the first in which citizens of all 27 current EU member countries will vote over a few days for people to represent them at the European level.

Turnout for the European elections is notoriously low - less than 45% in the 2004 elections, and people suspect that this year's turnout will be even lower, thanks to the current crises and peoples' discouragement and mistrust of politicians.

I would like to explain why I think we all have a role to play in promoting the elections and making sure that those in our home countries, who do not have the benefit of seeing Brussels and experiencing the work of the European institutions right here every day, get out and vote in June.

The first reason I would like to explore in favour of voting in the elections is that it is your opportunity to influence not only what happens in your country, but in your region of the world. It is about seeing the bigger picture, finding solutions that benefit not only those in your street, your town, your country, but Europe as a whole. The EP is the only directly elected institution in the European Union. It is your opportunity to shape the way Europe develops in the next five years.

The second reason some might decide it is important to vote, is to ensure that they are not highjacked by Euro-sceptics, who are trying to destroy what has been built up over the past fifty years. In England this weekend I saw this poster. It is clearly against the European elections, and comes from a party intending to use the EU system in a negative and destructive manner. There is no information about the positive effects felt in the UK as a result of being part of this European Union. No complex argumentation about what the benefits might be, just a focus on the perceived costs. Populists and Eurosceptics are forecast to take a bigger proportion of the vote than ever before. If you are unhappy about this, then this is your chance to ensure they are not given more power than they deserve.

The third reason might be that it is not only your democratic right, a right that people all over the world have fought for, but your responsibility to take an active part in shaping Europe. The parliamentarians have a role to play in shaping European law, which affects national legislation in many areas so has a direct impact on European citizens' daily lives. It also monitors the work of the other European institutions - the Council and the Commission. It is our chance to ensure the right people are making sure the right decisions are taken.

Other reasons might be that you want to boost the number of female MEPs, you don't like the current MEP representing you, you think tax payers' money should be spent more carefully... You might want the EU to show more leadership on climate change, to play a more responsible role in the world, to fight against discrimination and injustice... Each individual will have a different reason that makes it meaningful for them to vote.

Look at the candidates, read the parties' manifestos, find out the date of the elections in the country where you are registered to vote. The European Parliament website has loads of resources and has been set up to help make it easier for you to take part in this election. Check it out and make your choice. Then tell your friends.

Whatever your reason for finding the European Union important - and I hope you all have at least one - I hope I have managed to convince you of the necessity to get out there and vote, and to convince all your friends, relatives and colleagues to do the same.

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Blogger pinolona said...

I found out that if I'd wanted to vote in the Euro elections from Poland I would have had to have registered before 17 April. Damn.
Daniel Hannan is our regional MEP... I suppose at least he livens up EP Live a little.

2:48 pm  
Blogger pinolona said...

And congratulations on the speech and the prize, is what I meant to say! :)

3:07 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

Ah, what a pity. Still, I filled in the form and sent it off, but they say there's no guarantee with a postal vote that you'll get the form in time to vote. Duh.

And thanks :)

7:29 pm  

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