There’s an election going on, and I have no idea what the issues are. For a political junkie, that is painful.
Even worse, I just discovered there are not one but two elections underway in my area right now. I don’t have a vote in either. I think. Today I’m going to ignore Sulzburg’s municipal elections and talk about the European vote.
I knew about elections for the European Union Parliament. I read enough British press to know that they are still required to elect MEPs, even as they try to withdraw from the EU. Makes sense to me – I’m not convinced the UK is going anywhere, given that they have been negotiating their divorce from Europe for years. Who knows, they still might reconcile, which would make these elections important. I suspect though that most in the UK consider them to be a waste of time.
Here in Germany, no-one has mentioned the ongoing campaign to me. Maybe they think I wouldn’t be interested. Which is, I suppose, partially true. I’m sure I’m not eligible to vote for the European Parliament, so I haven’t taken the time to find out the details, and what the party platforms are.
I did notice though was that one of the parties is campaigning on the slogan Europa ist die Antwort, or “Europe is the answer.” When I saw that I immediately responded: Was ist die Frage? – “What is the question?”
There have been no candidates wandering the streets of Sulzburg, but I did think about asking my question when I saw a candidate campaigning in Lippstadt, my wife’s ancestral hometown. It was a Saturday morning; the rain was starting and several of the parties had set up campaign stands on the main shopping street.
The party that thinks Europe is the answer was handing out food, something waffle-like it seemed, and pens. I like to get something for free, but I still didn’t go over to the booth.
Having worked in politics I know how important it is for politicians to connect with constituents. I didn’t think it would be fair of me to take up the woman’s time talking to a non-voter. I just assumed we would be able to communicate – I know they have translation in Brussels, but the EU Parliament members I have met all speak English. (That may change if Brexit really does take place.)
I’ve been to the EU Parliament. I don’t think Europe is the answer, maybe not for anything. Funny thing is, I was, I suppose a moderate fan of the EU before my visit to Brussels. Seeing first-hand how the steel and coal trade agreement of the early 1950s evolved into today’s European Union convinced me that things have gone too far. Too much autonomy gets surrendered to faceless bureaucrats. That is the message of Brexit.
It makes sense that I haven’t engaged in this campaign in any way. I’m a guest in this country. How they choose to govern themselves is really none of my business. Still, on election night, as the votes are counted, I’ll probably be following pretty closely. As a political junkie I have no other choice.