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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » June 17, 2009
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From the Editor-in-Chief
June 17, 2009   
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Are we citizens of Europe? I don't mean formally, because the answer is obviously yes, but in actual fact?

Whenever we sit down to answer a serious question, doubts about definitions appear. What is the definition of citizenship? One would be prompted to say that one of the criteria is taking part in elections. Though many might beg to differ, let's accept this criterion today, a few days after the elections.

About 30 million Polish citizens have the right to vote in the elections to the European Parliament. About one in four took part. Alarm bells are ringing-here, in Poland, but in other countries as well.

There are few participants in European democracy though many are its consumers. Do they not believe in Europe, or in democracy? Are they offended at it, or indifferent?

Or maybe we're just lazy, or we think things are going ok, and will run their course by themselves, without our contribution?

I support mass participation in elections-also because I don't want to make decisions for other people, especially as those who don't take part usually complain the loudest afterwards. They give up their say claiming they don't have any influence anyway, but go on to badmouth the resultant political configuration. That's a very convenient stance, I agree: giving up responsibility but reserving the right to criticism.

Perhaps the Belgian model is better: compulsory voting. The fine isn't much, just 50 euros, but it might be enough to persuade some thrifty Poles. On the other hand, we hate being ordered about. Maybe the 50 euros would turn out to be an attractive way for people to assert their independence?
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