The Greens decided to select two main candidates to front their European Election campaign. In an attempt to get engagement with the electorate, the Green Party conducted their selection process for these lead candidates by using the internet. Not only innovative, but they also opened the voting up not just to all their members, but also to the general public. You simply had to register your interest, receive a text message and you could vote.
Real democracy from the comfort of your own home or office was now available. Did it work? Well it did in so far as two candidates were selected from the four who stood. Those chosen were not a surprise as they were expected to win. The interesting thing that emerged from the process is that only 22,656 people cast a ballot across the 28 member states. That is less that 1,000 per country. It is difficult to imagine that there are less than 1,000 members of the Green Party in Ireland so how many are there in say Germany? Why did they not vote? Is the EU so remote from the political activist, never mind the ordinary citizen?
When voting each elector was allowed two votes, as there were two positions to be filled. Therefore there were 22,656 people X 2 votes = 45,312 possible votes to decide the outcome. Yet the combined total votes counted are 37,538, so 7,774 ballots were not cast. That means that that number of registered electors decided to plump for a straight vote for their favourite candidate and ignore the other three on the ballot paper.
This should not be seen as a reflection on the Greens throughout Europe, but rather it again raises the relationship of the EU Parliament and in particular that of the Commission Presidency to the people of Europe. The establishment must do better. Well done to the Greens for making an effort to connect, but a lot more needs to be done. On the 23rd May make the effort to cast your vote and remember here in Ireland we have two elections and a lot of marking to do.