‘The more democracy, the better.’
How do you engage with democratic matters in your daily life
Democracy has always been something that concerned me because I believe that everybody should be able to lead a self-determined life as best as possible and in a community this is only possible through democracy. The more, the better. Therefore, democracy should not be restrained by artificial national boundaries when tackling important global concerns. That is why I support world federalism. The current global system is deeply undemocratic and unjust. With my work, I aim to challenge these discrepancies. For ten years now, I have been working on the question of how the international system could become more democratic. In 2007, we have started a campaign for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, which I coordinate.
What is your stance on the current state of the European Union?
The most pressing issue at the moment is of course the financial crisis; several states face immense debt. The question is how to maintain and stabilize the common currency under such conditions. Integration in economic and fiscal matters has outpaced political integration and the current crisis shows just how dangerous this gap is. Now, it is time to take a bold step forward: We need to advance the European integration and aim at a European federal union.
So far however, the solutions that are discussed, like the joint economic and fiscal government, are technocratic. The intergovernmental system is undemocratic at its core. I think that the European Parliament should be at the center of a strengthened EU The Parliament should have an unlimited right of initiative, for example, so that it can propose laws regarding all European concerns.
How do you like the proposal to reform the EU electoral law and thus, to increasingly integrate the citizen?
It is indeed a good proposal. Pan-European lists, set up by European parties, would definitely enhance the transnational motive. Moreover, the European dimension of the election process would become more visible to the public eye. The election campaigns would encompass a more European agenda; as candidates would not only aim to persuade voters from their own country, but from all over the Union. I believe this practice would contribute to the further development of a pan-European consciousness.
The same applies to direct democracy. If citizens have more opportunity to engage and participate, democracy is not only strengthened in a formal and political sense. It also means that they could identify better with the community and polity: The people could experience Europe. The European Citizens’ Initiative, for instance, therefore is a good thing. But I don’t think it’s going far enough. The aim should be that binding Pan-European referenda are possible.
Interview: Vanessa Eggert (London)