Europe's elite choose a new president
European leaders are meeting today to select a new president for the European Union. They will also choose an EU foreign minister.
With the final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the 27 member-states of the EU are now formed into a single entity, with a population of nearly 500 million and a GDP of over $18 trillion, wielding enormous economic and political influence. The president of this new federation will instantly become one of the most powerful figures in world affairs.
Yet despite the obvious importance of the choice, the selection process is taking place behind closed doors. Although the EU member-states pride themselves on their commitment to democracy, the president of their union will not be elected by its citizens. He will be chosen by a handful of government officials, seated around a dinner table, in a spectacular display of the control exerted by Europe's governing elite. Outside that small group, no one even knows the names of the candidates under consideration for the job. A British politician (who was reportedly under consideration for the foreign-minister assignment until he withdrew) remarked that attempts to discern what the selection committee was doing were comparable to the once-popular art of Kremlinology. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a self-identified candidate for the presidency who survived Soviet rule in Latvia, agreed, saying: "The European Union should stop working like the former Soviet Union."
So the newly reconstituted European Union, which was established without a popular vote, will select its new leader in a process that is hidden from ordinary citizens. They call this process democracy.
From my perspective here on the other side of the Atlantic, I cannot understand why there has been so little public outcry about the imposition of a new regime, dominated by government bureaucrats, upon the once-sovereign nations of Europe. Nor do I understand why the people of Europe would fail to recognize the danger of ceding so much power to leaders they neither elect nor control.
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