May 28, 2014 | INTERNATIONAL

European Elections: Commission Européenne, Null Points

This past week, European Union citizens have been electing their representatives in the European Parliament and as expected, following the en masse voting for the Eurovision Song Contest a couple of weeks ago, turnout was low. A lot of people were perplexed as to why they were asked to vote again for a pan-European cause and more importantly why they couldn't have done it with a text message.

 

As anyone who got a glimpse of any of the three live broadcasted debates among the EU presidential candidates would surely attest, the candidates' performances were poorly choreographed, blandly unmelodious and tediously attired, not to mention quite short on panache and sequins. Considering that both the presidential debates and Eurovision were orchestrated by the European Broadcast Union (EBU), it is truly baffling why they didn't apply some of the crowd-pleasing, eye-catching production pomp & fanfare of the latter for the improvement of the former broadcasts.

 

The EU Commission, as well as the local governments, instead of leveraging Eurovision to mobilize EU citizens in a spiriting conversation on the political issues that were driving this election, shortsightedly ignored the whole thing thereby ensuring the voters' indifference at best, ignorance at worst. Most Slovakians for example assumed that they weren't required to vote since their country has withdrawn from the Eurovision song contest since last year, hence the 13% turnout (basically, friends & relatives of the candidates).

 

In the UK on the other hand, public anger at the poor reception of their song in Copenhagen (it came 17th with a measly 40 points) led to an overwhelming triumph of the eurosceptic UKIP that had preached extensively about British musical superiority and the atonality of mainland Europe.

 

Of course, none was more upset than the French, that saw their song universally scorned and almost chased out of the competition with an embarrassing 2 points. This fell conveniently into the lap of Marine Le Pen, the National Front president, who cunningly used it to demonstrate the diverging interests between France and the rest of the European motley crew of countries, the fact that no good can come from divesting more power to Brussels and the lousy, uncultured musical taste of Romanians & Bulgarians.

 

A lot of extremist parties also rode the Conchita Wurst express to boost their electoral chances, as indeed happened, by portraying the bearded, sequined diva as the antichrist of Brussels, nefariously attempting to render viewers/voters dumbfounded and/or catatonic and thus hasten European integration and centralization of power behind their oblivious backs. They also frantically cautioned conservative male voters of the repugnant trend that the Austrian performer is maliciously spearheading, namely the female unshaven look, with ominous warnings of a dystopian future where their wives or girlfriends no longer shave their legs.

 

It was also disappointing that the candidates for the EU presidency themselves didn't seem very receptive to the lessons derived from the showmanship of their fellow -European singing nominees and their successes and failures. For example, Ska Keler, the Greens' candidate could have heeded the example of the Dutch songstress, what  with her stripped down, almost acoustic,  birds & trees-filled performance and flower-embroidered, almost virginal yet sexy dress, to get her message through. Alternatively, she could have gone for the less subtle, yet more brazen, Polish approach of showing cleavage while churning butter (a wink to feminism & the local food movement).  Jean-Claude Juncker could have borrowed from the Armenian singer's impassioned, soul-baring, light-showy act to enliven his soul-crashing, excruciatingly boring, wooden speeches and Alexis Tsipras could have used some of Conchita's rise-from-the-aches spunk to animate his anti-austerity proclamations.