Saturday, May 23, 2009

EU voters don't have Turkey on their minds

Many people in Turkey believe that whether Turkey, as a Muslim country, should be allowed to join the EU is a hot issue or maybe the hottest issue in the upcoming EU elections in June. It's not. It's not even in the top-twenty most important issues for the EU-voters.

So what is important to the people who fill in the EU Profiler? (see below) Firstly, the promotion of sustainable energy, even if it means higher energy prices. Here there seems to be quite a degree of unanimity in Europe, because the issue scores highly in nearly every country.
On other topics, opinion is divided. For example, on the desirability of health care privatisation. In the Netherlands this is barely matter for debate, but in Sweden, Italy, Poland and Austria it heads the list.

Another hot issue is terrorism. To the pan-European Euro-sceptic party Libertas, it's evidently a crucial topic. And indeed, the acceptability of restricting civil rights (related to terrorism) turns out to be among the top three priority issues of many visitors to the EU Profiler. For the Czechs, it's actually the most important issue.

But why is the 'Turkey EU accession talks, a big favourite among populist parties like Geert Wilders' Freedom Party in the Netherlands, not important for EU voters in general?

One of the makers of the EU Profiler, Amsterdam political scientist André Krouwel, is not surprised that political parties should have different priorities from the electorate."Well, surprise surprise: the elite thinks that other things are important than the masses. What else is new in politics? Mr Wilders, for example, has been in parliament for twelve years so he's clearly part of the political elite. He's trying to frame an issue that for a certain group of voters - say ten, twenty per cent - is very important. But overall, that is not the most salient issue''.

On the other hand immigration - another favourite Freedom Party topic - actually does matter to the electorate.
Particularly in the Netherlands and Hungary, the statement that immigrants should be obliged to accept European values is ranked highly in terms of importance. And now Mr Krouwel thinks the politicians need to shift their attention to issues voters actually care about; "Immigration and the environment are what they should talk about, absolutely. They shouldn't talk about institutions and whether there should be one or two foreign ministers for the European Union, or a president, or whatever treaty.''

Turkey as a possible EU country and the immigration issue are of course close related. But it looks like that many EU voters are more worried about the enormous problems the latest enlargement wave caused (influx of Polish, Romanian and Bulgarians undeducated migrant workers) and therefore not have Turkey in their mind since they sincerely believe that Turkey will never be an EU member.

Personally I think Turkey could be an asset for the EU, but Turkey lost, after the official start of the negotations, its appetite for the EU and lost clearly momentum. While only around 57% of the Turkish population support Turkey's EU accession process, more than 65% of the Europeans are against. Will a forced marriage be beneficial for both?

For more details go to the multilingual EU Profiler website (also in Turkish) and play around.

Le Grande Dame de blogging, Maria Amelia Lopez, died on the age of 97

From her blog:

A Spanish grandmother who became an Internet sensation after dubbing herself the "world's oldest blogger" has died aged 97.
Maria Amelia Lopez, who died Wednesday, began blogging from her home in Galicia two years ago, winning a raft of fans with her eclectic mix of commentary and nostalgia infused with a sharp wit.
She was introduced to the Internet when her grandson set up the blog as a gift to mark her 95th birthday.It proved a great escape, Lopez later writing: "On December 23rd 2006, my grandson gave me a present, this blog when I was 95 years old ... and my life changed ... now, I can communicate and interact with the world."

She wrote and video blogged about her experiences opposing Franco's regime, modern politics -- covering topics ranging from the Basque separatist threat to Iran's nuclear ambitions -- and poignantly discussed what it was like to grow old.

Her fame even saw Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero drop in for a chat. Visit Maria Amelia Lopez's blogIn one of her last postings in February she said: "When I'm on the Internet, I forget about my illness. The distraction is good for you -- being able to communicate with people. It wakes up the brain, and gives you great strength."

Her family have left one final post, thanking readers for their support."[There were] 880 days when her blog made her happy... the support she needed to enjoy her last days of life," they wrote."When somebody leaves after 97 years, living with joy from the beginning to the end, we can't be sad."Wherever you are, grandmother, you will read these comments, all of them without doubt. She will laugh at some, will learn with others, she might get annoyed at the specific 'language' used in some ... but she will be happy reading all of them."

Other wise bloggers:

Blog van Maria Amelia Lopez, 97, Spanje (†).

Blog van Mortart, 84, Amerika.

Twitter van Ivy Bean, 104, Engeland.

Blog van Olive Riley, 108, Australië (†).

Blog van Donald Crowdis, 95, Canada.

Day Opening - May 23

The Mackingtosh building - Glasgow. Designed by art nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.