Source: The European Union: A Beginner's Guide (1 ed. 2012) by Alasdair Blair.
[p. 119 Top] [1.] In some instances, the elections can be used as a form of protest vote against the government of the day. [End of 1.]
[p. 124 Bottom] To understand this issue, it is worth reminding ourselves that European elections are totally different to any other type of election that we can imagine. If we take the example of local and national elections, it is the case that these elections are about local and national issues. The crucial distinction is that European Parliament elections really have nothing to do with European issues. Members of the European Parliament are without exception elected on the basis of the national context and not the European. Moreover, the debates put forward by the political parties are invariably about national issues. This is despite the fact
[p. 125 Top]
that MEPs sit within transnational political groupings that have nothing to do with national issues. In this sense, we could argue that European elections are best referred to as the 'dialogue of the deaf'. Candidates tend to stand for election on national issues and the electorate tend to register their vote depending on the suc- cess of national governments rather than the European integra- tion process. This is further influenced by the fact that European elections often take place midway through the lifetime of national parliaments. [2.] One further problem with European elections is that they are often used as a sounding board for discontent with national governments and as such it is often the case that rela- tively small parties, such as the Greens, will do better in a European election than they would otherwise do in a national election. [End of 2.]
[p. 195 Middle] Just as we can expect a greater extent of shared decision making at an EU level, we can also expect that there will be fur- ther changes to the way that the EU is governed. At present the EU is governed by institutions that suffer from weak legitimacy. This particularly applies to the European Parliament where there continues to be a development lag between the augmentation of its powers and its weak legitimacy. This is in part a product of low turnout in European elections, which in turn points to the fact that the European Parliament does not operate in a manner that citizens would expect. [3.] European elections are not about the choices of what the EU should be about, as they are basically just a focus for the electorate to express their discontent with national governments. [End of 3.] But the Parliament has also been timid in using its powers to reinforce democracy.
Why would a national electorate do 1-3, rather than protest directly against the national government?
How would the national electorate achieve 1-3? Vote for EU parties that oppose the national parties hated by the electorate?
Why would the national government care about which EU party prevails in the EUP? I can understand a national government's hope for its own members to become MEPs: but how does this hope benefit the national government?