During the last few weeks I’ve been involved in trying to set up hustings for the European Elections. The political parties that we’ve spoken to have been hugely grateful that someone is taking an interest in the elections: at the grass roots such interest is generally pretty minimal.
Why is this? Some will say it’s because people are rather cynical about politicians or that European politics doesn’t seem immediate enough to raise interest. Others will say that it’s a failure on the part of politicians and the media to properly engage us with political debate. Others again might argue that indifference to the elections reflects a belief that it is large multi-national companies and financial bodies that now have far more influence over the way we live than anything that happens in national or European parliaments.
Yet I believe that the European elections do matter. They matter, because, like or not, politics still matters. Our elected representatives and governments still wield power and influence over our daily lives. The laws they frame, for good or ill, shape our society. If we want to influence that, we need to vote and our politicians need to know they have an engaged electorate who is watching what they do. We also need our politicians to feel they have a strong mandate from their voters to hold government to account, while themselves being accountable to us. In so many parts of the world people are making huge sacrifices in order to have the right to vote. Let’s be engaged and not indifferent to the political process.
The Revd Canon Andrew Braddock, Director of the Dept of Mission and Ministry