American-style primaries would breathe life into European elections

THE European election will be overshadowed by enlargement of the EU and the adoption of the European constitution. By comparison with the dramatic struggle in America – nasty, brutish and long – the European Parliament elections will be made to look short, humdrum and irrelevant.

Politics is not fair. The fifth European Parliament, since direct elections were introduced in 1979, has been a success, but the electorate does not sense this. The new constitutional treaty will endow Parliament with legal and budgetary powers that fulfil the wildest hopes of those of us elected in 1979, but the election process still lacks the legitimacy that comes from genuine political struggle.

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