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Transnational devotion

Transnational devotion
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Who goes to the trouble of campaigning across Europe in its parliamentary elections? Danish liberal MEP Johannes Lebech is one of the rare few — by train and as far as his feet will carry him.

Lebech said: “This European campaign I’m making is first of all to underline that the European election is not 27 national elections, but a European election and that’s why I’m travelling all around Europe.” Spain and Portugal’s Socialist leaders have lent each other moral support. The outgoing Parliament’s conservative president and political peers the French and German heads of state have also shown camaraderie. The head of the French centre-left party and its group leader in the Parliament shared the podium too. Yes, the EPP held a major conference in Warsaw, but largely for talks on who would get the top EU positions. People see power in play, but have trouble comprehending that their votes affect the decision process, and so common policy in their own lives. Oskar Niedermayer, at the Free University of Berlin, said: “People do not consider it a talking shop without influence, but they see it as a European matter and the European level itself as not important for them. This is the problem.” Common campaign tools were placed at all the EU member states’ disposal by the Parliament itself, but with a softly-softly approach — and the communication ideas were not taken up universally.