Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Euro-elections may prove to be a watershed for EU

One-fourth of Turks may not know whether their country is a member of the EU, according to a recent survey by Bahcesehir University. And when they cast their votes this time, very few citizens of the EU did not know that Turkey has not become one yet, and a large portion of them said that they did not want Turkey in the EU.

Whether Turkey will be a member of the EU or not is certainly not going to be decided by the 736 members of this new European Parliament.

But among the 9,000 candidates who entered the race in all the 27 member-states, there was a sizeable number who touched upon a raw nerve of the European public by reminding them of the dangers of Turkey becoming a member of their club. The rhetoric may have been anti-Islam, anti-Koran, anti-immigration, economy or European culture.

But in the subconscious of many Europeans, Muslim is an adjective implying mainly to the Turks, and the prospect that this big Muslim country with its problematic democracy and perplexing culture may become the 28th member of an already problematic union, has sent shivers through many European voters. Especially to many unemployed European voters who see a Turk as well as a third world immigrant a serious threat to their job security.

This column has been written hours before the announcement of elections’ results, so it is premature for any analysis. However, the results of Euro-elections in the Netherlands unduly revealed Friday, confirmed the predictions of most observers: that two years after the failure of the Lisbon Treaty and in the midst of an open-ended unprecedented world economic crisis, the Europeans are growing even more skeptical over the idea of this supra-national economic-political union whose cohesion has proven doubtful.

Euroskeptics are proven to be a stronger and better defined entity, which may prove to be an erosive force in Europe depending on how long the economic crisis will last and how many labor rights and freedoms are going to be sacrificed. The general decay of the EU may reflect in the low participation in these elections. In Cyprus, a record 41.12 percent of the electorate chose to abstain from voting. For Cyprus, which made most of its calculations on its national policies and its relations to Turkey on its allegiance to the EU, this huge absence must send an important message to Brussels as well as to Ankara.

The Europeans have also become more conservative Ğ the expected Berlusconi victory will prove the trend Ğ more nationalist and more xenophobic. Geert Wilders’s surprise victory in the Netherlands was a case in point. His anti-Islam anti-Koran, anti-immigrants campaign of his Freedom Party, or PVV, may win almost 17 percent of the votes and four out of the 25 Dutch seats in the Euro-parliament. This is a party that had no seats in the European Parliament up to now. The case of the Netherlands may be followed by Austria. In France, the 80-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen is running again with his National Front while in Greece the far right party LAOS whose party slogan includes "no to Turkey in Europe" has conducted a campaign demanding a return to a more "Greek Greece."

Talking about Greece, yesterday’s polls were a dress rehearsal for the general elections. With just one seat parliamentary majority, the government of the conservative New Democracy party is trailing behind the main opposition party of socialist PASOK, which is expected to come on top. For both leaders, the Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the opposition leader, Yorgo Papandreou, it is a major test to their leadership. For Papandreou, it is the last chance to prove that he can remain as a leader of his party after last two defeats in the general elections.

For Karamanlis, who remains the most popular politician across the board, it is a crucial test inside his party after a series of sleaze scandals that have marred his second term in government and made him lose a number of his ministers.

The latest issue about politicians from both major parties being bribed by Siemens over a number of years became the only issue of these elections with the economy and Turkey being totally pushed on the sidelines. Unlike many other country members, the Greeks did not include the Muslim-Turkish danger among their prime concerns. And unlike many countries of the EU, the Greeks (watch the news) did turn up to vote although a significant number of Eurosceptics chose not cast their vote.

True to say, though, that it was not out of their concern about European affairs but out of their political introversion that grades partisan politics their most popular pass time. By the time I finish this column, I admit that I do not know the final results of the Euro-elections in Greece.

But I know the title of the next political musical which is inspired by them and will be staged this summer in Athens. It is: "La Parliament au Folles."
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