European Union Voting and Why it’s Important

The European Union is a continually changing peace project in Europe. As it has out grown its original purpose of preventing war between France and Germany, the Union has had to discover and adapt to its new purpose.

Habermas argues, as part of his critical theory view, that how the EU evolves is by increasing citizen participation within the EU because the people’s involvement increases the legitimacy of the state’s authority.

In 2007 the European Union signed the Lisbon Treaty after realizing that voter participation was very low and was continuing to decrease. Many citizens felt that the EU was a distant, irrelevant government that tried to dictate rules from Brussels. The Lisbon Treaty (which came into affect in 2009) would increase democratic principles in the EU and allow greater opportunity for participation. Some examples would be the Citizen Initiative (1 million EU citizens sign a petition for proposing a law to the Commission), increasing Parliament’s powers, having laws passed by national parliaments, etc.

The MEPs and Commissioners knew that the EU would lose relevance and authority if the citizens did not feel connected to their government at the national and supranational levels. Voter participation was 43% in the 2009 election. So, how is the government to reflect the people when less than half of the EU population is politically active? The hopes of the increase in democratic participation with the passing of the Lisbon Treaty would give the institution more respect as it would be reflecting the citizens wants better.

However, 2014 Parliamentary Election (the first elections since the Lisbon Treaty came into force) voter turnout was only 42.54% with some newer MS with only 13% turnout like Slovakia. With these results did the Lisbon Treaty fail in its job to involve citizens or are they just slow to come around to these big changes?

Patriotism or Culture:Where does Morality Come From??

In the International scene morality is just not a philosophical idea that is put forth to make one’s self feel better. It is a way to justify actions and prevent world atrocities. But how do we develop a sense of morality. Is it inherent like Morgenthau believes or do we learn from the societies we live in and the relationships we develop? While arguing for their different schools of thought McIntyre and Kant explore this idea of where morality developed. For starters McIntyre is a Communitarian while Kant is a Cosmopolitan; therefore, they are coming from a different political ideology background to discuss world morality.

Both do pull from a liberal idea of the State of Nature that Hobbes puts forth. Kant states that each nation is like an individual in a state of nature protecting their interests in anyway possible (The nation’s full focus is on war to do so.) To stop this war mindset in the International World, each nation must come together in a federation (social contract) to protect each other’s security and rights.

McIntyre pulls from the idea that we move out of state of nature into a social contract, but within our own nations as individual men. For him, unlike Kant, what drives us to stay in a social contract within our own nations is Patriotism. However it is this dedication to our own country, culture, language, etc. that holds us back from entering into a world social contract.

Both also focus on a desired morality that keeps us within our social contract (whether its at the state level or International level). McIntyre believes our patriotism cultivates a system of morality, but Kant states that it is culture that morality comes from.

I don’t believe that McIntyre’s counterargument of Cosmopolitanism is a thorough as Kant’s argument for it. McIntyre will only pull out the information that will work well to prove his point of Communitarianism. He doesn’t go into every little detail and give multiple examples to explain his counterargument, while Kant does do this.