Why voting in European elections matters

Even if EU institutions may feel too far away and aloof from the daily struggles people face, Malta is part of these decision-making structures and not an adjunct to them

On 8 June Malta and 26 other EU member states will vote to will elect members of the European Parliament for the next five years.

Although these are European elections, what is likely to weigh on voters’ minds across all 27 countries will be domestic issues that may or may not have a European flavour.

Voters will undoubtedly use these elections to award or punish incumbent governments; in some instances, voters will use these elections to experiment by voting for political parties they may listen to but are wary of. And many other voters will simply stay at home unbothered by what goes on in the European Parliament, which they feel is too distant from their lives.

Malta will be electing six MEPs in the fifth such appointment since joining the EU 20 years ago.

It will be an occasion for voters to choose candidates who will not only be representing Malta but will be militating in the different European political groups, each with their ideological outlook.

Maltese voters will generally expect Maltese MEPs to keep the interests of a small island in mind when arguing different positions within their respective European political families and in parliament.

But on an individual level, MEPs will have to balance their personal views with those of the European political family they will form part of and the positions of their respective parties in Malta. Not all three strands align perfectly at times but after all, that is the art of politics.

Defence and security, and making the green transition fairer and less punishing for families and businesses will undoubtedly be key issues over the coming five years as will be institutional reforms to ensure greater accountability and transparency at EU level. Climate change will not go away, although it may be less fashionable to talk about. Energy diversification and strengthening Europe’s industries will also be issues that matter.

Not everything will be decided by the European Parliament but MEPs have an important voice when legislation is being drafted. And that voice extends to many areas that can have a direct impact on EU citizens.

From the introduction of a minimum tax for companies, to the imposition of the emissions trading scheme on shipping; from rules that dictate what constitutes full fat milk to legislation intended to offer greater protection to journalists; from laws intended to protect the environment to setting budgets for increased military spending, a lot of what happens in the EU – a good part of it inside the European Parliament – does impact the everyday lives of ordinary people. It may not be obvious but European issues are also domestic issues.

And at times, domestic issues can also become European issues even in instances where the European Parliament can only exert moral pressure, such as on abortion.

Even if EU institutions may feel too far away and aloof from the daily struggles people face, Malta is part of these decision-making structures and not an adjunct to them. Malta is a part of the EU and it is the right of every Maltese citizen to choose their representatives in the European Parliament.

Having MEPs who can network and build alliances, argue their case and always keep in mind the realities of small countries is imperative. Above all, it is important to have principled representatives, which is why we urge voters to sift through the political rhetoric and ignore those candidates who are promising things they will have absolutely no remit on as MEPs.

This leader believes the right to choose your representative should not be forfeited, which is why we encourage people to go out and vote on 8 June. After all, six MEPs will definitely get elected with or without your vote, so you might as well pitch in to determine the outcome.