R1-M1: Double Vision VS Team Michel

Future of Europe

Welcome to Round 1 of the Future of Europe E-Debate Competition!

The topic for the 1st debate is:

The President of the European Council should be elected by EU citizens.

In this debate Double Vision (Affirmative) will face Team Michel (negative).

The 1st debater of the affirmative team has 24 hours to post the 1st speech of the debate. Even if the speech is posted before the 24 hours expire, the 1st negative speakers’ 24 hours of preparation time will begin when the initial time expires.

Before posting please consult Guildelines and the Online Debate Guide.

Good luck to all teams!


Because the opposition team did not post their speech in the allotted time, this match is won by the opposition team, Team Michel, by default.

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    Team Michel

    The European Union is at a crossroad, shaken in its core foundations and altered by multidimensional crises, unprecedented in scope and scale. Indeed, in many member states, Eurosceptic and populist movements are on the rise, primarily as the result of a growing discontent and public mistrust towards the capabilities of the European institutions. Old tribal allegiances between voters and established parties have become weaker, leaving many volatile and less willing to defer decisions to state representatives in Brussels and Strasbourg. Rightfully, many Europeans are concerned about the EU’s capabilities to tackle the challenges ahead, thereby demanding greater electoral involvement through direct elections.

    While sentiments for greater democratic legitimacy and citizen participation are per se a favourable development, the call for direct elections of the President of the European Council depicts an intrinsically falsified approach. The argumentation that an alteration of the electoral procedure will foster democratic legitimacy, thereby ameliorating political participation, oversimplifies the realities of direct elections at the supranational level. This is sustained as a successful reform of any system of governance must be aligned with the system’s own functional logic, hence the role of the President of the European Council.

    Currently, Article 15 of the Treaty of the EU defines the role of the President to be one of a chairman, a facilitator and an intermediary, seeking to consolidate consensus amongst the heads of states. What renders the mandate of the President peculiar is that he/she is per se ‘stateless’, serving the supranational dynamics of integration, without any substantial incentive to exploit the office for partisan national interests. This in itself significantly distinguishes the mandate of the President to a national head-of-state, discrediting any comparisons to political electoral processes in the United States.

    If direct elections were to be implemented, both the electoral race and the supranational mandate were to be infiltrated by political ideologies and party associations. No longer would the President solely promote consensus, instead seek to deliver on campaign promises. On its own, this alteration of the electoral mandate is counterproductive for the European project and the roles prescribed for the President of the European Council. It is further aggravated by the dangers of growing Euroscepticism and right-wing populism. Electoral decisions within various member states have rendered it questionable whether European citizens will truly assess the suitability of each candidate or whether protest voters will express their discontent through the election of a like-minded representative. Therefore, instead of promoting democracy, such a procedure is expected to result in converse dispositions, namely the election of a Eurosceptic President. Such an electoral turnout would not solely expand the democratic deficit but render the vital institution of the European Council hampered in the promotion of its agenda.

    Even if Europe were to overcome populism and scepticism, a direct election is not convertible into reality. Europe is a vast, complex and multilingual society, with more than half a billion people spread across 28 member states. Accordingly, introducing an equitable campaign for the election of one presidential position would be exceedingly challenging. It brings about a plurality of questions, primarily referring to the organisational structures of direct elections. Will every EU member state be granted a candidate? How would the system overcome the challenge of differences in population size and voter participation?

    Within their deliberations, the affirmative party proclaims that for true democracy to be feasible, every European citizen shall have the right to vote for the President of the European Council, rather than a political party and ideology. But on what parameters will citizens cast their vote, if not on political ideologies? Perhaps, within a utopian EU, citizens are capable to elect a supranational leader unswayed and in disregard of national interests. However, this simply fails to portray reality. Today, political ideologies depict primary electoral drivers. Therefore, we shall currently not impose a traditional and nation-based model of democracy on the supranational entity of the European Council. Contrary to the deliberation of the affirmative party, this adaptation would paralyze the European Council, hamper strategic advancements and ultimately reinforce mistrust amongst European citizens.

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    Double Vision

    In this modern era, we are experiencing a crisis in our democracy; not only Europe is facing a rise of extremist parties, but also a lack of trust towards politics and democratic processes, especially among the younger generations, is extremely apparent. EU citizens feel detached from the political scene and from their voting rights as there is a common misconception that their vote will not affect the course of the elections.

    Indicative of this situation is that there is no institution that represents all European citizens directly and collectively. Therefore, the direct election of the president of the European Council by the EU citizens, as part of the general European democratic processes, will function as a way to confer greater democratic legitimacy in the EU. Additionally, EU citizens will be activated to participate in the electoral process as they will be held accountable for the outcome of the election and the decisions taken during the new presidency. This is also an effective way and opportunity for citizens to truly understand the role of the president of the European Council, as they will have to contemplate upon the electoral procedure and critically assess the suitability of each candidate. Another benefit of giving the voting right to the people is that it will also have a reciprocal effect, resulting in potentially re-establishing a closer and more active and connected relationship towards European democracy.

    In order for democracy to serve its purpose, all agendas and therefore all people should have an equal say and part in the voting process; applied to this situation, the voting power for such an impactful place in the European Council should be given to the individuals and not to political parties, in order to avoid the promotion of their own ideological or/and socio-economic interests and agendas. A good example of parties promoting their own policies is the case of the US electoral process where the US president is not elected by the people but the state representatives; even though the current infamous US president did not earn the majority of the votes, he nevertheless got the presidency.

    In order for EU not to be yet another example of failing democratic ways towards its citizens, it is vital for its democracy to be transparent and unbiased by not excluding any electoral position from the European citizens’ voting right. The decision-making process of the European council affects millions of European and non-European people which is why it is so significant for the EU to follow the basic democratic policies.