By Anya Topolski
Contrary to the maxim popularised by political scientists that there is no political community without a political identity, what Europe most needs is a political community without identity. The project of the EU should be to create a space for the clash of ideas, a Europe of different visions, different voices, different languages that are continuously in discourse. A reply to Etienne Balibar.
Let me begin with a personal anecdote that speaks to the political crisis Europe is facing today. Having recently become a Belgian citizen, I – along with 11 million other Belgians, have been overwhelmed by the lack of time to study and scrutinize the different European parties and platforms, one of whom I will have had to (voting is compulsory) select on Sunday, May 25.
In Belgium, as in other European countries, several elections are running concurrently. While I understand the financial advantages of having as many elections as possible on one day, the price paid for such profit is democracy itself. Much like the unfolding of the European project, this is a case where economics trumps politics. When voters are not able to take the time to make a considered choice, possibly to get involved, hear a debate, ask questions etc., the absolute minimum requirement for any democracy – the vote itself - becomes futile.
It should come as no surprise that so many people don’t even bother to vote. This is the first issue we, the people of Europe (regardless of our citizenship), must address: how can we make Europe more about politics than profit and in so doing return solidarity and prosperity to a continent divided by austerity?
The second issue arose when I finally managed to make time to study the many European parties and platforms. Impressed with their ideas about Europe ‘to come’ as one that fights neoliberalism, austerity and poverty in order to create solidarity and prosperity, I had made up my mind to vote for the European Left party. I then proceeded to click on the map of Europe to discover what the party’s name was in Flanders, where I am to vote.