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Europeans have been transfixed these past frenzied weeks by the U.S. Presidential campaign. Given the blanket coverage from Helsinki to Lisbon, it's almost as if the 2004 Presidential elections were also being held across the European Union (where, according to polls, Senator John Kerry would be savoring a landslide victory over President George W. Bush by now). Through it all, many Europeans have looked at the strangeness of the American political process -- from the billions of campaign dollars spent and the influence of privately financed partisan groups such as MoveOn.org and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to the tens of thousands of lawyers put on alert to challenge poll results -- and are wondering whether American democracy will emerge unscathed from the ordeal.
It's not the American body politic Europeans ought to be worrying about but their own. U.S. democracy has weathered many a crisis. Europe, in contrast, is still trying to justify the existence of the European Union -- and to prove its value and viability as a democratic, political construct. Yes, the U.S. is split into red and blue states. But the EU is more polarized than ever over key issues affecting its future, from admitting Turkey as a member to adopting a constitution that would vastly expand Brussels' power to set policies in economics, immigration, and judicial cooperation. The rifts are such that integration now risks becoming gridlocked. Worse, some worry that the EU itself could splinter eventually. "I'm starting to be scared," says Ulrike Guerot, a European politics specialist at the German Marshall Fund of the U. S., a public-policy think tank in Berlin.
The extent to which Europe is still a work in progress can be seen in the clash between the European Parliament and Jose Manuel Barroso, the President-designate of the European Commission, the EU's executive body. Barroso chose to withdraw his slate of commissioners on Oct. 27 rather than risk certain rejection at the hands of the 732-strong Parliament. Barroso's inept handling of the crisis turned a relatively minor problem -- the outrage of left-wing parliamentarians over anti-gay sentiments expressed by Italy's Rocco Buttiglione, the proposed Justice Commissioner -- into a bitter institutional clash. Although it was a morale booster for the directly elected Parliament, the dustup underscored how incoherent Europe's institutional checks and balances actually are. Even as a revised commission lineup is being readied for early November, the question of how power is apportioned among the Commission, the Parliament, and national governments is more muddied than ever.
Like America Europe has its Issues Too
Originally posted by FredT
Europe in particular has had a keen interest in the U.S. political election, to the point of a newspaper in Britain attempting to influence voters in an Ohio county
to the headlines making derogatory comments about those who voted for President Bush.
However, despite the criticism leveled at the United States, all is not well in Europe either.