Today are the elections for the Dutch members of the European Parliament. The Chinese have a saying: may you live in Interesting Times. It is more of a curse actually....
Europe-wise these are interesting times indeed. The union has enlarged recently and will continue to grow in the near future (with several prospective members already lined up, of which Turkey is the most interesting). There is also a European Constitution in the making... Although "constitution" is somewhat of a misnomer. We are not talking about a short work of legal art (like the US constitution) but instead the proposed European constitution is a monsterous several-hundred pages long document which contains detailed texts about all things bureaucratic. There will be referendums about it and I am pretty sure that either the Danish, the English or the Dutch will vote against it.
"The Dutch?" I hear you think? But you were always such ardent Europeans!? Well, we are, and we ain't. In fact most of the European related rules and legislation have been pushed through (Dutch) parliament with little or no explanation to the electorate. And we are in a particularly grumpy mood lately because we always seem to get our ass kicked in Europe by larger nations. Do the words "stability pact" ring a bell? Throw in the fact that we are the largest net contributors per capita and that most people perceive the Euro (unified currency) as being against our best interest and you can begin to understand how many people feel.
What interests me though is that we Europeans are struggling with lots of things related to living in a continent-size area with a (albeit it loosely) federal structure, but yet we do not look across the Atlantic towards the US for possible solutions to our problems. The US has been a federal republic for over two hundred years and have worked out a structure for dealing with state/federal issues, allocating responsibilities and building a more or less functioning democracy. I am not saying that they got it right and that we should imitate that, but we could at least try and learn from them. That debate is sorely missing...
Anyway, I will be among the few voters who will bother to go to the poll booth today. If only I knew who to vote for... :-)