An important demand has been started on Facebook for EU citizens just this Monday. It calls for “TV debates on major European channels between the candidates for president of the European Commission.” Through that, it rightfully demands that EU citizens can make a more informed choice when they go to the ballot box for the European Parliament elections in May 2014. At the time of writing, this Facebook page has already some 655 “likes” on Facebook, but I am sure it can and will grow in much higher numbers. It is a demand from EU citizens to know what the possible future EU Commission President nominated by one of the different political groups is going to implement and what she or he is standing for.
Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has gained new powers and its showing its muscles. This is an important step forward, as the Members of European Parliament are directly and democratically elected. Thus, EU citizens who will vote in May 2014 at the European Parliament elections have a big say of where the EU will head to during the next five years as I have recently pointed out in a blog post of who will head the EU in 2015. However, it is difficult to make an informed decision when the candidates are not properly grilled in TV debates as it has become popular in many democracies around the globe. So why should the EU be an exception with that?
One of the issues will be how to find a common language – although it would be fair to have them in English with simultaneous translations. Another issue is what kind of TV channels will be selected. Rightfully, this initiative calls upon public TV stations to host that kind of debates. One might even think about different policy areas that are discussed in the various debates. Thus, the debate at the BBC might focus on financial issues and migration while the ARD could have specifically questions on data protection and alternative energy. Therefore, each debate has an appeal to voters to actually watch it. However, it is not realistic to have 28 debates in all the different member states. An alternative could be that instead that four debates are organized by seven countries each (smaller and bigger countries). The “big four”, Germany, France, the UK, and Italy could host the debates but they invite partner stations from other member states and together they identify the questions.
For sure, not much time is left to implement this great idea. However, it is not too late. Make sure to share your own ideas in how such a debate should look like and what kind of format you like. And, make sure to join the Facebook group “European Elections – Give us a TV debate.”